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Vladimir Litvinenko explains why Qatar is in no hurry to promise Europe additional gas


Qatar demanded that Europe sign a long-term contract with it on LNG supplies, which will be valid for at least 20 years. Otherwise, the emirate does not agree to sign a contract with Brussels or Berlin. This position is quite logical, because an increase in production capacity from the current 77 million tons (about 106 billion cubic meters of natural gas) per year to 110 million will require an investment of at least $30 billion.

Obviously, reasonable people can spend so much money only if they are sure that the project will pay back. That is, that the customer will buy their products for a long time and will not give them up in a few years for some reason or other.

The European Union is not ready to accept Doha's conditions yet, because the withdrawal from long-term contracts on fossil fuel imports is part of its green agenda. The fact that such initiatives have been the main cause of the current methane shortage, both in the EU itself and on the global market, and have only caused an increase in CO2 emissions due to the increased demand for fuel oil and coal, does not seem to have been understood by European officials yet. But it is quite possible that soon they will understand and agree to Qatar's terms.

Especially since, in addition to the huge investments required to develop new fields, build liquefaction plants and an armada of tankers; there are at least three other reasons why Doha will continue to insist on cooperation only under a long-term contract.

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First, the emirate is well aware of who it will have to compete with in the European market. The United States has already demonstrated that it is willing to take the most extreme measures, including disrupting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is extremely profitable for the EU. Europeans themselves have made it clear that they are going to continue playing by Washington's rules, no matter how harsh they may be. They will do literally anything for the sake of their transatlantic "friends", up to and including a complete breakdown in relations with Russia, which has been a reliable guarantor of energy security in the Old World for more than half a century. Let alone a tiny Middle Eastern state. It is clear that its interests will be sacrificed without even thinking, if necessary.

It is quite logical that Qatar does not want to take risks and is not going to fight the Americans for this piece of the pie, no matter how tasty it may seem. Trying to do so could be very costly, especially if you consider that the EU has recently reached a number of agreements on energy supplies with U.S. companies. So, Cheniere Energy, the biggest LNG producer in the United States, starting from 2025 is going to supply 25 million tons of liquefied gas to the EU from the Corpus Christi plant instead of 15 million tons as it is now. Venture Global LNG and German energy operator EnBW have also announced the signing of a similar 20-year agreement. From 2026, another 1.5 million tons of natural gas will start flowing to it.

The second reason is the growing protest mood in Europe. The results of the latest elections in France and Germany, in which the opposition parties won significantly more votes than before, show the discontent of the population with the actions of politicians in these countries and, in fact, question the legitimacy of their presence in power. If this trend develops, any agreements with Berlin or Brussels, if they are not long-term in nature, may not be worth nothing in a few years.

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"The success of the "Greens" in Germany was largely due to the fact that they caught the 'social wave,' accurately understood society's demand and made clear that they were ready to meet it," says Vladimir Litvinenko, a leading expert in the field of the fuel and energy complex and rector of the St. Petersburg Mining University. "This is exactly why they were able to join the ruling coalition, changing the internal political picture that is customary in Germany. On the other hand, the pre-election promises of this party turned out to be nothing more than populism. For example, we all well remember that the Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Berbock was one of the most fierce critics of the Nord Stream-2 project. She claimed that the trans-Baltic pipeline would have the most negative impact on the environment, so its construction should be stopped at any cost. There is no pipeline, just as Ms. Minister dreamed, but the greenhouse gas emissions from the EU territory have, as one would expect, only increased. For the simple reason that instead of methane, German thermal power plants are now burning coal or fuel oil. I am sure that by the next election campaign, the Germans, like the residents of many other European countries, will have a lot of questions for the current Cabinet of Ministers, and not only about the environmental agenda. So the desire of Qatari representatives to conclude a long-term cooperation agreement is quite understandable."

Vladimir Litvinenko believes that in the coming years, Europeans will think about ecology less and less frequently, as economic and social problems will come to the forefront in the EU. They are no longer just riding to the horizon, but over the once-prosperous continent, a Damocles sword hangs, getting more and more dangerous every day. Thus, the second delegate of the Greens to the government of Germany, Minister of Economy and Climate Robert Habek has already begun to morally prepare the population for the coming crisis.

Specifically, he stated that "if the German government runs into a gas shortage, some sectors of the economy will be forced to shut down and this will be disastrous. Not in the short term, but in the long term."Many Germans, he said, would "lose their jobs," and "a number of regions would lose entire industrial complexes."

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Of course, Russia is blamed for this state of affairs. Although, if you go back a year or two, it is not hard to understand: our country, despite U.S. sanctions, has done everything possible to complete Nord Stream 2, to provide Germans, both big businesses and ordinary consumers, with natural gas and rid them of all those problems, the harbinger of which Mr. Habek spoke of.

"In many Western countries, the delegitimacy of power and the loss of public confidence in it are increasing," continues Vladimir Litvinenko. "This is caused by the fact that the interests of the people and political elites are gradually conflicting, creating grounds for the strengthening of protest moods and even popularization of nationalist ideas among the masses. The actions of leaders of some powers and institutional international systems in the global economic and political arenas are also losing their legitimacy, that is, they are gradually losing the right to represent the majority and act on its behalf. As a result, the environment of trust created over decades is becoming a thing of the past, and any, even written agreements with the countries of the West are losing the status of binding documents. Given this state of affairs, it will be very difficult for the European Union to convince its partners that it will not fail to keep its promises in the foreseeable future."

The Rector of Mining University believes that the growing crisis of the legitimacy of decisions on key planetary issues in the center of Europe will lead to inevitable social upheaval. In particular, global structural inflation, hunger, and even wars are difficult to overcome. Astonishingly, the EU, living in energy poverty and at the same time blindly playing by Washington's rules, does not consider all these risks and only fanatically adds oil to the fire.

The EU not only supplies Ukraine with tanks and missiles, but also constantly declares its intention to impose an embargo on Russian hydrocarbons, the availability of which is the foundation of the economic development of most EU member states, and above all Germany. That is, in fact, there is a deliberate financing from its side to "kill" its own industry, jobs and living standards of its own citizens. The prospects for cooperation with such a partner, who acts in an exceptionally irrational manner, of course, require further study and presuppose very weighty guarantees from his side. And this is the third reason why Qatari politicians and energy experts are cautious.

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"It is clear that progress in resolving the conflict in the center of Europe, which is increasingly becoming global, can only be achieved if politicians, scientists and finance experts from around the world join forces. We urgently need to restore the environment of trust on an international scale, create the prerequisites for new fundamental knowledge, restore the balance between supply and demand on the energy market, and make energy accessible to the entire planet. And we must systematically work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing alternative energy sources on the basis of objective scientific data and not populist statements. Only by our joint efforts, based on the legitimacy of our decisions, can we preserve civilization, transform our technological world, and contribute to achieving the UN's sustainable development goals. Unfortunately, today's destructive position of the West does not contribute to this," emphasized Vladimir Litvinenko.

Considering the way the so-called coalition of global leadership acts, in the future the world community will have to unite more and more often in collaborations without participation of the US and its allies. In this regard, the role of such groups as BRICS or, for example, ASEAN will increase. Washington, on the contrary, will gradually lose its current status as the international center for making legitimate decisions for the whole planet.