The United States in negotiations with Qatar on gas supplies to Europe in the event of an invasion of Ukraine


The U.S. is in talks with Qatar and other major gas exporters to plan emergency measures in case the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupts supplies to Europe.

Talks with Qatar and EU member states, focused on securing additional maritime cargo of liquefied natural gas, became urgent after high-level security talks between Washington and Moscow this week brought minimal progress.

This has raised concerns for conflict this could hit gas supplies at a time when Europe is already facing record prices. However, officials warned that there is no “magic wand” to address a potential shortcoming with a continent already affected by the energy crisis.

“We are looking at what can be done in preparation for the event, especially in the middle of winter with very low temperatures [European natural gas] stocks in stock, ”a senior U.S. administration official said.

“We talked about what can be moved around the market, what can help. . . things that we can now prepare for deployment if and when the crisis escalates ”.

Tensions between the West and Russia have risen as Moscow has deployed about 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. The U.S. has threatened severe sanctions on Russia if it attacks, while some energy officials have accused the Kremlin of already using its gas exports.

That was said last week by Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency Russia has restricted gas supplies to Europe at a time of “intensified geopolitical tensions”.

It fears the conflict could lead to a further drop in gas supplies to Europe, which is facing a rising cost of living crisis and rising inflation as gas prices rise. With gas supplies at record lows for that time of year, officials fear Europe could face industrial disruptions, a permanent power outage or even a loss of heating supplies if Russian exports fall sharply after the invasion.

A senior official in Joe Biden’s administration acknowledged that existing contracts between LNG exporters and Asian buyers could complicate efforts to divert supplies to Europe.

“There is no magic wand,” the official said. “Everything is very difficult, very complicated. I want to do it within the constructions of how markets work, how commercial conditions work, how cargo works. ”

The official added that it has become increasingly clear that Russia has been squeezing gas supplies in recent months to gain influence over European capitals.

“This is not a market situation that we are facing. These are not market forces. These are manipulated markets, ”the official said.

Europe’s reliance on Russian gas has complicated efforts to present a united front against Moscow’s threats.

While most observers expect Russia to avoid a complete reduction in exports, there are concerns that Moscow could continue to squeeze supplies further or that Ukraine’s gas export infrastructure could be damaged by the conflict.

Energy leaders also warned of the potential impact of US sanctions after Biden said this week that sanctions could include stopping Russian banks from operating. US dollars – the main currency of global trade in goods.

One energy industry chief executive said Europe would almost certainly face extremely high prices in the event of a disruption that could require coordinated government action to procure marine LNG cargo.

“They will actually have to compete for all the supplies in the market, taking the cargo out of Asia, and the likely end result is that taxpayers will pay,” the executive energy director said.

“It would be like procuring PPE at the beginning of a pandemic, and governments need to intervene.”


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