In the midst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, EU countries continue to search for reliable alternatives to Moscow's gas supply. Despite US support in this sector, European countries are trying to address these new obstacles at a time when the main gas-producing countries, including Qatar, do not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the European market.
In this sense, Qatar has shown solidarity with the European Union, reiterating that it will maintain gas supplies to Europe, regardless of whether other buyers pay higher prices. According to international observers, Qatar is acting "pragmatically" in the current energy crisis. In this vein, they note that Qatar is willing to show both its enthusiasm and its intention to cooperate with its Western allies, while Doha is pushing for the transformation of energy contracts, characterised by short-term contracts with Europe.
Qatar's energy minister, Saad al Kabi, explained in an interview for CNN that "we will maintain current supplies, and this is in solidarity with what is happening in Europe (...) we will not transfer contracts even if we have financial gains", he pointed out.
Similarly, Qatar is aware of Europe's predisposition to lead the energy transition in favour of green energy. For this reason, the country continues to have Asian countries, especially China, as one of its main customers in this market.
As a rejection of Russia, Europe wants to curb its heavy dependence on Moscow in the energy sector. The United States was the first to veto gas from Moscow, a decision that the EU-27 cannot afford. Moscow continues to supply Europe with 40 per cent of its gas and 25 per cent of its oil, a far cry from the figures that Washington maintains with Moscow.
In fact, the United States is trying to get Europe to follow suit. Despite these high dependency figures, US President Joe Biden declared at a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyden that "independence from Russian gas would be costly" for European countries, but that "it is the best strategic path".
However, European experts point out that it is almost impossible to veto Russian gas and describe it as "unfeasible". Doha is of the same opinion and doubts "the effectiveness of this measure". Qatar exports 20 per cent of Russian gas, while around 80 per cent of its own exports go to Asia.
In this context, a German delegation led by Economy Minister Robert Habeck travelled to Doha in an attempt to further reduce this high dependence on Russian gas. According to al Kabi, "we have not yet concluded a long-term agreement with Germany, but we are ready to discuss with the companies with whom we were discussing the development of a long-term agreement for its possible implementation".
All this comes at a time when Russia has demanded that "unfriendly countries", including European countries, pay for Russian gas imports in roubles, the country's official currency. "It makes no sense to supply Russian products to Europe and receive their products in their currency. There will be a switch of gas payments to roubles," he said.
According to analysts, this measure would be a way of "embarrassing" European countries, taking advantage of Russia's advantageous position with respect to its gas and hydrocarbon deposits compared to EU countries. The Kremlin said in its latest statement that it had ordered Gazprom to accept payments in roubles for its natural gas exports to Europe, and that it had only four days to decide how to do so.
For the moment it is not known whether the European Union will accept this new measure decreed by Moscow, but it is certain that for the moment Europe does not have other countries that supply gas in the quantities needed by European citizens, especially those belonging to the Eastern European countries.
Meanwhile, Russia continues to launch its offensives against Ukraine, a country that, despite all the atrocities, continues to resist, even making the Russian army retreat. Some experts point out that "Russia has already lost the war" at a time when Moscow has downgraded its military objectives, after claiming to focus its efforts solely on the "complete liberation" of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.