Qatar Reportedly Has 'Little Spare Capacity' for EU Amid US Search for Alternatives to Russian Gas

© AP Photo Qatari liquid natural gas (LNG) tanker ship being loaded up with LNG at Raslaffans Sea Port, northern Qatar
 Qatari liquid natural gas (LNG) tanker ship being loaded up with LNG at Raslaffans Sea Port, northern Qatar - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.01.2022
On Tuesday, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the White House was "working to identify additional volumes of gas" for Europe from North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the United States in the event of a drop in Russian supplies amid the Ukraine crisis.
Qatar has little spare gas capacity to reroute to Europe, and would need assistance from Washington to persuade its existing long-term customers to reroute LNG supplies to America's allies if Russian supplies were disrupted, a source said to be familiar with negotiations has told Reuters.
The gas rerouting issue is expected to be broached in the upcoming meeting between President Biden and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani on 31 January, according to the source.
The US State Department raised the issue of finding alternatives to Russia - which provides roughly 40 percent of Europe's natural gas, in the event that Russian gas supplies to the region are interrupted due to an escalation of the Ukraine conflict. Earlier this month, energy companies told US officials that replacing Russian gas supplies would be next to impossible, given Russia's immense weight in the global gas market.
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On Tuesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration was "engaging with a range of countries and partners to discuss what could be shortages" of Russian gas supplies -including those transiting through Ukraine.
Psaki said that Washington was searching for sources of additional supplies of gas from North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the United States itself, and that US officials were "in discussion with major natural gas producers around the globe to understand their capacity and willingness to temporarily surge natural gas output and to allocate these volumes to European buyers".
The spokeswoman did not go into detail about which countries specifically the US was talking to on the matter.
Europe is already facing its worst energy crisis in decades, with a perfect storm of factors, including a colder than expected winter and spring of 2021, fierce competition for supplies with Asia, a failure by many countries to stock up their reserves, over-dependence on short-term supply contracts, and the poorer than expected performance of new alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power blamed for the shortages. The supply shortfall has caused a dramatic jump in energy and heating prices in many EU countries.
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The United States, which contributed to the crisis by spending over two years trying to torpedo the new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, and rerouting its LNG supplies to Asia, has blamed Russia for the European gas crisis, claiming that Moscow is deliberately squeezing the continent. Moscow has dismissed the allegations, and has stressed repeatedly that it is prepared to deliver as much gas to Europe as is needed through long-term supply contracts. Russia has also called on Germany to unfreeze the certification of Nord Stream 2, saying the new 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year capacity pipeline could ease shortages and lead to a drop in energy prices.
Ukraine pumps some 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe through its infrastructure, receiving several billion dollars in compensation each year from Gazprom in the form of transit fees.
In recent weeks, Western officials and media have expressed concerns that these energy supplies could be at risk after spending months claiming that Russia has amassed troops on the border with Ukraine and is preparing an invasion. Moscow has dismissed the allegations and accused the West of deliberately exacerbating tensions to justify the further beefing up of NATO's presence along Russia's western frontiers and new sanctions. In recent days, Ukraine's defence minister, the secretary of the country's National Security and Defence Council, and the prime minister issued a series of statements dismissing the "invasion" fears, calling for calm and issuing a rare rebuke of foreign media for ramping up war fears.
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