Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The Gas Exporting Countries Forum has determined that with the world’s major gas exporters striving to ensure reliable supplies, no promise can be made to increase exports to Europe should Russia cease its deliveries to EU member states.
The Forum meeting was presided over by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who said that the 11-nation group, which also includes Russia, was striving to preserve stability in the world markets.
“We’re working hard to ensure a credible and reliable supply of natural gas to world markets and preserve the stability of those markets”, Al-Thani declared, as he called for closer contacts with consumer markets to ensure a stable supply of gas.
The Forum met as energy security has become a pressing issue in Europe, with Russian troops entering Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin recognised the independence of two rebel-held regions in the country, offering military aid in the form of “peacekeeping forces”.
While the US, the UK and the EU are coordinating a package of economic sanctions against the breakaway republics and Russia, a key question that remains is whether Russia retaliates by stopping its gas deliveries to Western Europe. Russian gas currently accounts for up to 40% of European consumption.
Russia’s Minister of Energy, Nikolay Shulginov, omitted making any reference to the growing tensions between Russia and the West in the meeting, but assured the Forum that “Russian companies are fully committed to existing contracts”.
Although the US has urged Qatar to help Europe make up for its gas shortfall in the event that Russia stops its deliveries, Qatar and other gas exporters maintain that they have no major reserves available that could be sent to Europe in case of an emergency. They indicated that this would only be possible if their Asian customers agreed to give up on their promised supplies.