Qatar’s capital Doha has hosted a two-day forum of gas-exporting nations against the backdrop of mounting tensions in Ukraine, as well as reporting progress in the drawn-out negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the 11-nation Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which began on Monday and includes Russia, was striving to preserve stability in world markets, which have been rocked by growing fears of a conflict between Moscow and Kyiv.
The United States has previously asked Qatar to help Europe by preparing emergency supplies if Ukraine’s crisis worsens. But producing nations say they will not be able to provide substantial amounts of replacement gas if sanctions against Russia do affect Western Europe.
Qatar and other countries have insisted that significant investment is needed in gas infrastructure, and that they need the certification of long-term contracts to be able to guarantee supplies to Europe.
The European Union has long resisted the 10, 15 and 20-year contracts signed by other key customers for Qatar’s gas, which includes China, Japan and South Korea. Russia currently accounts for 40 percent of gas used in Europe, and Qatar five percent.
Presidents and prime ministers from Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Mozambique, and Trinidad and Tobago were among those attending the GECF. Below is a collection of statements made at the summit.
Sheikh Tamim said forum countries were “working hard to ensure a credible and reliable supply of natural gas to world markets and preserve the stability of those markets”.
The emir renewed calls for further dialogue among member countries of the forum, as well as gas importers and exporters to ensure the security of global supply.
“To further promote our role in natural gas production, we are endeavoring towards increasing our LNG production capacity from 77 million tonnes annually to 126 million tonnes annually by 2027,” he said, referring to liquefied natural gas.
Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, the minister of state for energy, said most of the gas volumes exported by Qatar are already tied up with long-term contracts.
Russian Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov made no reference to the Ukraine tensions but told the forum that “Russian companies are fully committed to existing contracts” for gas supplies.
United Arab Emirates
Suhail al-Mazrouei, the UAE energy minister, said the recent oil price rally was driven by geopolitics.
“It’s not an issue of supply and demand, this is an issue of geopolitics,” Mazrouei said.
Tehran has a high capacity for gas production for domestic use and a high and growing capacity for exports, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said.
On the subject of international sanctions against the oil and gas industries, Raisi said “the members of this forum should not recognize those sanctions… in today’s world we see that the sanctions are not going to be effective”.
Raisi said his country wanted to increase production and exports but was being held back by what he called “cruel and unnatural” US sanctions against his country.
Iraq’s Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar Ismail said his country aims to shift its investment priority from the oil sector to gas for the first time in its history.
This would allow Iraq to increase its production of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and distillates, he added.
Timipre Sylva, Nigeria’s petroleum minister, said there is no need for crude oil production – even as oil nears $ 100 a barrel.
“We don’t have to do anything extraordinary this time because we are expecting a lot of production,” Timipre Sylva said on the sidelines of the conference.
“We are expecting more production if a nuclear deal with Iran works out [since] there will be production from them.
Sylva also said Nigeria was working hard to bring oil production levels higher by the end of 2022.