Qatar's energy minister Saad al-Kaabi said Feb. 1 that Qatar stood ready to support its partners around the world "in times of need", but warned that no single supplier would be able to provide more gas to Europe without having a knock-on effect globally.
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Kaabi, in comments published after a meeting with the EU's energy commissioner Kadri Simson, said Europe's energy security required a "collective" effort from a number of market players.
The EU is consulting with a number of its main gas suppliers on the potential for additional deliveries should there be disruption to Russian pipeline flows amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine.
"Qatar stands ready to support our partners around the world in times of need," Kaabi said following the meeting with Simson held virtually.
Writing on Twitter, Simson added that Qatar had been a reliable energy partner to the EU and was "ready to work with us to increase LNG supplies in case of a disruption of pipeline gas."
However, Kaabi stressed that keeping its contractual word was "sacrosanct in Qatar" and that the volume of gas needed by the EU "cannot be replaced by anyone unilaterally, without disturbing supplies to other regions around the world."
He said he hoped that tensions in Europe could be resolved diplomatically so that all suppliers could work together to ensure energy security for the short- and long-terms.
"Europe's energy security requires a collective effort from many parties," he said.
The meeting between Kaabi and Simson came after US President Joe Biden on Jan. 31 hosted Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in Washington.
The US is keen to ensure European energy security in the event of any escalation of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
The uncertainty has led to European gas prices remaining at sustained highs in recent weeks.
The TTF day-ahead price hit an all-time high of Eur182.78/MWh on Dec. 21, an increase of 985% year on year, according to S&P Global Platts price assessments.
Prices have cooled since, though they remain at historic highs. The TTF day-ahead contract was assessed Jan. 31 at Eur83.08/MWh, still a year-on-year increase of 300%.
Qatar is a key LNG supplier to Europe and has access to a number of regasification terminals, including in the UK, Belgium and Italy, among others. It also has a long-term supply contract with Poland's PGNiG.
However, it also supplies key clients in Asia under long-term contracts, and Kaabi's comments suggest Qatar would not entertain breaking any of its contractual obligations.
It is also reportedly seeking guarantees from the EU that any additional LNG arriving in Europe would remain within its borders and not be re-exported.
Long-term gas and LNG supply contracts historically contained destination clauses that prevented gas from being sold on to other markets, but these have increasingly been eliminated from contractual arrangements.
Qatar was the biggest LNG exporter globally last year with total supplies amounting to 110.2 Bcm of gas equivalent, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics.
It was followed by Australia (107.2 Bcm) and the US (96.3 Bcm).
Qatar currently has an LNG production capacity of some 77 million mt/year, but has plans to boost it to 110 million mt/year with the addition of four more trains and to 126 million mt/year with the addition of two further trains.
Kaabi has also said that Qatar could even expand its production capacity further.
The UK -- no longer an EU member state -- was also reported to have asked Doha for more LNG supplies late last year, though the UK government 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 Qatar Energy itself is co-owner of the South Hook LNG terminal in Wales.
Qatar was the dominant LNG supplier to the UK in 2020, representing 48% of total LNG deliveries, followed by the US (27%) and Russia (12%), according to UK government data.
Qatar has recently booked more capacity at the Isle of Grain terminal having also booked long-term capacity at the Elengy-operated Montoir terminal in northwestern France to 2035.
Qatar has also agreed to take the full capacity at Belgium's Zeebrugge terminal from the expiry of the existing long-term contracts until 2044.
Locking down Northwest European import capacity is seen as an important strategy for Qatar given the region's liquid trading hubs, ample gas storage capacity, and good interconnectivity.