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Monday, January 24, 2022

Britain seeks gas shipments from Qatar amid ‘national crisis’


The UK continues to grapple with an energy crisis as worldwide prices jump and exports from Russia reduce.

Qatar has emerged as Britain’s last minute savior as the UK struggles to meet its energy needs amid a surge in gas prices, according to The Independent.

London earlier requested Doha to step in as a “last resort supplier” of gas during a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani at the UN General Assembly in September. Since then, talks have taken place between government ministers from both countries, including UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

According to the London-based paper, “the UK brokered an informal arrangement with Qatar to keep gas deliveries flowing, as it prepares for a full strategic partnership agreement in 2022.”

Although the Qataris expressed willingness to engage in longer-term supply deals with the UK, the latter has denied that the Gulf state plays a “formal” role as a “supplier of last resort”.

Energy suppliers this week described the spike in prices as a “national crisis”, while industry experts warned that energy bills could double when the price cap is reviewed in April.

Major European economies France and Germany are also affected by the price increase while the UK faces a deeper issue with cost and supply.

Read also: UK asks Qatar to become gas ‘supplier of last resort’ amid energy crisis

However, it is believed that there has been an increase in shipments since foreign secretary Truss visited the gulf state last October.

The UK has been eyeing Qatari gas in efforts to reduce dependence on Norway and the United States. “It avoids putting our eggs in too few baskets,” The Independent quoted a source with knowledge of the Qatar talks.

“Qatar continues to be a supplier of liquefied natural gas to UK buyers but is not a formal supplier of last resort and we have not requested or secured any additional shipments from the Qatari government,” a government spokesperson said. 

The paper suggested that the “existing commercial relationships between Qatar and UK-based buyers, such as Centrica, make it easier for the government to encourage greater supply without saying that it has directly requested additional shipments.”

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