Germany courts Qatar, UAE seeking alternatives to Russian gas

Germany courts Qatar, UAE seeking alternatives to Russian gas
Robert Habeck is the latest European leader to go shopping in the Gulf, seeking quick solutions to shortages caused by sanctions against Russia.
2 min read
19 March, 2022
Habeck has lamented Germany's energy dependency on Russia and vows to make amends [Getty]

Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck touched down in Qatar on Saturday, in search of new ways to meet his country’s energy needs in the light of sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Habeck was visiting Qatar on the back of another trip to Norway, and plans to discuss future supplies of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) from the resource-rich gulf state. 

Following his visit to Doha the minister will be tracing Boris Johnson’s footsteps to the United Arab Emirates, who are positioning themselves as leading producers of green hydrogen. 

Germany has felt the effect of Europe’s sweeping sanctions against Russia particularly keenly, and was forced to halt the development of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline - which would have deepened Europe’s energy dependence on Russia for the foreseeable future. 

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Because of Germany’s focus on pipeline gas, pivoting to LNG imports from countries such as Qatar and the UAE would have to be gradual, to allow for necessary infrastructure improvements. 

In comments earlier this week during an interview Deutschlandfunk radio, Habeck said that Germany was "stupid" to let itself become dependent on Russia for around half of its gas supplies.

The minister pledged that in future, individual sources should be limited to providing between 10 and 20% of the country’s energy needs. 

However, in a following interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that week, he defended making energy deals with countries with “problematic” human rights records - comparing them favourably with Russia’s current position. 

The Russian economy is heavily reliant on energy exports for stability - making up between 50 - 60 percent of Gross National Product.