27th January 2022

Talks come as US and EU seek to build energy contingency plans should Russia shorten supplies to Europe over Ukraine tensions.


Qatar’s emir will hold talks with US President Joe Biden on January 31 on a range of issues including global energy security, according to the White House, amid concerns over gas supplies to Europe.


Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s scheduled visit to the White House, the first since Biden took office last year, comes as Washington discusses with energy-producing states and firms a potential diversion of supplies to Europe if Russia invades Ukraine.


On Monday, reports said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the matter with the foreign minister of Qatar, a top liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) producer, in a phone call.


The emir’s meeting with Biden will provide the leaders with an opportunity to discuss “ensuring the stability of global energy supplies,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.


Other issues will include “promoting security and prosperity in the Gulf and the broader Middle East region” and “supporting the people of Afghanistan”.


Washington is concerned that Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine, could invade its neighbour, triggering US and European sanctions that would prompt the Kremlin to halt deliveries of Russian gas to Europe.


Global gas supplies are already tight and Qatari energy shipments are locked into long-term supply contracts which cannot be easily broken.


The EU would only be able to find alternative gas supplies in “rather smaller volumes from a multitude of sources” to make up for a Russian cutoff, according to a senior Biden administration official who spoke to The Associated Press news agency about internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

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