Energy remains at the forefront of the ties between the UK and Qatar, with current talks between the two sides in London centering on strengthening strategic cooperation in the sector.
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A top-level Qatari delegation including its Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi, began May 23 a working visit to the UK having already stopped off in the week ended May 21 in Spain and Germany.
The ongoing European energy crisis and its impact on economies across the region has seen unprecedented diplomacy efforts to secure a more stable energy supply, and Qatar has repeatedly said it stands ready to help its partners.
Al-Thani, speaking in Berlin May 20, said Qatar would do what it could to provide energy security in Europe.
"We're happy to contribute to the stability of the energy market," he said.
UK and Qatari officials have held a number of bilateral rounds of talks in recent months as they continue to look at ways to improve their energy ties.
The UK -- already a key buyer of Qatari LNG -- is keen to strengthen partnerships with major energy suppliers.
There was news in November 2021 that the UK had asked Qatar for more LNG supplies as gas prices soared to record highs, though the UK government has denied having requested additional cargoes.
The UK's Centrica already has a long-term Qatari LNG import agreement for delivery into the Isle of Grain terminal, while QatarEnergy itself is coowner of the South Hook LNG terminal in Wales.
The UK was Qatar's second-biggest market in Europe last year, with imports totaling 6.2 Bcm of gas equivalent, second only to Italy, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Qatar has already shipped 2.55 Bcm of gas equivalent to the UK in the first four months of 2022, the data showed.
UK gas prices soared to record highs in March, with the NBP day-ahead price hitting an all-time high of 512.10 p/th ($67.18/MMBtu) on March 7, according to Platts assessments from S&P Global.
UK prices have come down in recent weeks, however, and are currently trading at a discount to European prices.
High LNG imports at a time of relatively low demand, combined with the fact that the UK has only limited storage capacity and export routes, has seen the NBP day-ahead price slump to as low as 25 p/th earlier this month.
The UK has one of Europe's lowest gas storage capacities at just 1% of its annual demand compared with other European countries, which hold as much as 20%-30% of annual demand in storage.
Talks between the UK and Qatar are also expected to focus on LNG storage and storage capacity more generally, and what role Doha might play in the UK's energy security.
There are already plans for deeper cooperation in the gas sector between London and Doha.
In October 2020, Qatar Petroleum -- now QatarEnergy -- signed a 25-year agreement for up to 7.2 million mt/year of import capacity at the UK's Isle of Grain terminal starting mid-2025.
Kaabi said at the time that the agreement meant Doha was "reaffirming" its commitment to the UK's gas market.
In October 2021, QatarEnergy and UK's Shell signed an agreement to jointly invest in blue and green hydrogen projects in the country.
Under the deal, the two companies planned to look for opportunities in key sectors where hydrogen can support decarbonization efforts, especially in industrial clusters and the transport sector.
What is also clear is that Qatar is going to have a lot more LNG to export in the coming years.
It is currently working on its North Field expansion project, with the first new LNG trains expected online in 2025.
Qatar currently has an LNG production capacity of about 77 million mt/year (106 Bcm/year), but can produce above the nameplate capacity.
It has plans to boost production capacity to 110 million mt/year with the addition of four more trains from 2025, and to 126 million mt/year with the addition of two further trains by 2027.
Doha has suggested it could expand its LNG export capacity even further.
While the UK has a relatively diverse portfolio of gas supply options -- including domestic production, Norwegian imports, links to continental Europe, and LNG deliveries from a range of sources -- locking in more Qatari LNG in the medium term would likely bring an extra layer of supply security.