Russia-Ukraine crisis: Qatar emerges as major alternate to Europe's ever-increasing energy demands

Published on : 05:56 PM Feb 23, 2022

Former Ambassador Anil Trigunayat while talking to ETV Bharat's Saurabh Sharma, said, "Qatar now has become a major player and is counted amongst the richest nations with greatest energy reserves. But even if Qatar supplies its gas reserves to Europe, that will not be sufficient because Europe's requirement is enormous."

New Delhi: With the rise in tensions and the specter of all-out war looming large over Ukraine, any further escalation by Russia has the potential to intensify the European Union's energy crisis. The realization of their precarious situation has sent the European Union nations, who have been reliant on Moscow for natural gas for decades, scrambling to find an alternative for their energy needs. One such alternative could be Qatar.

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Talking to ETV Bharat on this conundrum, former Amb. Anil Trigunayat opined, "Last month the Emir of Qatar was invited to the United States. On his arrival to Washington, Qatar was given the status of a major non-NATO ally. The main reason behind this move by the US was to get an alternative energy supply for the European Nations."

Amb Trigunayat further said that "Qatar now has become a major player and is counted amongst the richest nations with greatest energy reserves. But even if Qatar supplies its gas reserves to Europe, that will not be sufficient because Europe's requirement is enormous." Advertisement

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The war in Ukraine (if it happens) is likely to create more problems for Europe as it will underline the dangers of Europe’s dependency on Russian gas. The prevailing tension has sparked off a new debate that in case Russia invades Ukraine, this would eventually intensify existing energy shortages and lead to even higher prices for European consumers who are experiencing a severe cost-of-living crisis.

Also read: Russia-Ukraine conflict escalates to next level after Putin declares Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk as independent nations

Qatar, as the world’s second-largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), has so far been the main focus of efforts to find alternative energy supplies. In this context, the United States will continue to convince their European allies that in case of war or of any sudden escalation, they will provide alternate routes to them to meet their regular demands of gas and energy supplies.

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With this evolving situation, Qatar will be at leverage and would want to see a termination of the European Commission antitrust investigation which was launched four years ago into the way Qatar was selling its long-term contracts to European customers.

In a sudden development on Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Qatar for his first visit to a Gulf Arab state for a major gas summit which was primarily dominated by tensions over the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

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"On this Nuclear deal, both Beijing and Moscow are Iran’s main international partners and have been seen as its allies during the talks. US, Russia, and China have vital interests in Iran and they all want to see Iran coming to the discussion table to revive the 2015 nuclear accord. As of now, it seems that the US and Iran are days away from the nuclear deal," opined Amb Trigunayat.

"With this development, I do feel that the US would certainly put an end to sanctions imposed on Iran and Iran in return could supply its gas supplies to Europe,'' says Amb Trigunayat.

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United States imposes sanctions

After President Putin declared to recognize the rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, collectively known as the Donbas, the United States announced sanctions, blocking trade and investment in the “so-called DNR and LNR regions”.

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Reacting to this, former ambassador Achal Malhotra said, "In my opinion, the sanctions imposed by the US on these rebel-held regions is a wrong decision. Because this would isolate these regions even more and now these regions would have to depend only on Russian which will only consolidate Russia's position."

Also read: Biden, Putin signal bigger confrontation ahead over Ukraine

When being asked to comment on the issue of Qatar is emerging as a vital player, Achal replied that "the US wants to see an end to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is not even operational. Europe's heavy dependence on Moscow for its energy supplies is not a secret. In case the situation gets even worsened more, this would certainly impact both Russia and Europe."

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As Russia would be hit economically, Europe's demand for its energy and gas consumption would be severely hit which would impact the whole of Europe, says Achal Malhotra. Qatar in this instance has emerged as a key player but how feasible and practical it would be is a matter that has to be seen, Malhotra pointed out.

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