Politics, Europe

French foreign minister on tour of Gulf to secure energy supplies

Tour of Qatar, Oman and Kuwait to discuss diversification of energy supplies for Europe amid energy crisis triggered by Ukraine war

Shweta Desai  | 29.03.2022 - Update : 29.03.2022
French foreign minister on tour of Gulf to secure energy supplies


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian began an official tour Monday of Qatar, Oman and Kuwait to discuss Europe’s diversification of energy supplies amid an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

On the first leg of the tour, he met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and discussed “the ongoing efforts to put an end to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, its consequences on international hydrocarbon markets and the need to diversify the gas supplies of European countries,” said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

Le Drian will also meet with his counterparts in Oman and Kuwait, during which the talks will focus on gas and oil supplies to Europe in the context of the Ukraine war, the statement added. He will also discuss the regional crises in Yemen and Lebanon along with other bilateral issues, but the emphasis of the tour will be on securing Europe’s energy supplies amid global sanctions on Russia and rising crude prices.

His visit to the Gulf comes close on the heels of official trips by British and other European leaders to persuade the energy-rich region to boost its oil and gas supply to provide for their energy needs.

Last week, a German delegation led by Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck visited Qatar for talks on supplying gas to Europe, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to talk about boosting oil production.

Before embarking on the Gulf visit, Le Drian also spoke by phone with his Saudi and Emirati counterparts on the energy issue and underlined the need for “strong international mobilization” in the wake of Russia’s aggression.

Having developed strong ties with Moscow, the Arab Gulf countries are divided and are cautiously guarding a neutral stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine. While Saudi Arabia, the largest producer among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has rebuffed calls by American and European leaders to increase oil production, the UAE has encouraged OPEC member countries to boost output.

Qatar meanwhile has shown a willingness to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, and Kuwait has underlined the importance of defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Europe is desperately trying to secure alternate sources for supplies of petroleum products, natural gas and crude oil to reduce its dependency on Russia, which is the single biggest energy supplier to the EU countries, over the war in Ukraine. There are strong concerns over threats to Europe’s energy security due to possible disruptions of Russia’s gas flow and oil supplies.

France has announced its aim to be independent of Russia in terms of its energy requirements over the next decade. ​​​​​​​

Under the French presidency of the European Council, France has declared the goal of pursuing energy independence for the EU in the coming decade, which can be achieved by diversifying supplies and sources of oil and gas.

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