Blackmailed through gas again. Qatar-gate adds up to EU dependency on gas

London/Brussels, 18 Dec 2022 – When a problem is structural you can’t work it out by morphing it into something else: EU green energy plan is not leading us to independence from gas, but makes instead the Union still at risk of being blackmailed by gas exporter foreign states.

Today Qatar government is threatening to stop or reduce its liquified gas export to the Union following its suspension from access to EU Parliament, a decision taken after alleged bribery of the Gulf state in the Qatar-gate ongoing investigations. This comes amid the huge crisis generated the Ukraine war and the subsequent Russian energy war against Europe as the 27 members will reduce imports of Russian gas from 155 billion-cubic-metres (bcm) to 100bcm per year till the endo of 2023.

The issue lies in the deep ground of Brussels’ decision making. Down in the layers of wrong energy policy investment plans which included natural gas generated electricity into the green transition process to meeting net zero targets of 2050.

See EU parliament backs labelling gas and nuclear investments as green | Reuters

The new rules will add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU “taxonomy” rulebook from 2023, enabling investors to label them as green (included the market investments).

If on the one side in the European Parliament newly approved regulation gas as a source of electricity is labelled as transitional measure to meet 2050 goals, this remains a non green source of energy and still produces high level of CO2 emission, though to a lesser extent than coal.

Global CO2 emissions by fuel:

Source  ©Global Carbon Project (2022)

The inclusion of gas as green energy source in the EU taxonomy would, and actually already is, driving investments away from new clean energy, from renewables and new green technology.

The issue of dependency on foreign states with a strong corruptive and blackmailing power such as Qatar then remains. Now the EU Parliament took the right step by excluding the Gulf state from access to its activity, but that comes at a cost, Doha let us know this morning.

“The decision to impose such a discriminatory restriction that limits dialogue and cooperation on Qatar before the legal process has ended, will negatively affect regional and global security cooperation, as well as ongoing discussions around global energy poverty and security,” said a Qatari diplomat in a statement in relation to the investigation on alleged bribery of EU Parliament MEP and staff to foster its candidacy to the FIFA World Cup, ongoing now in Doha.

Qatar was in 2019 the top LNG exporter followed by Australia and US while Russia is fourth. This year United States is the first global Liquified natural gas exporter as the war in Ukraine increased EU demand for imports from the US.

But while the conflict in Ukraine deepens along with the energy crisis, the EU is looking to Qatar as LNG supplier as well: the state is planning to boost its LNG production capacity to 139 million tons per year, according to ICIS (the Independent Chemical & Energy Market Intelligence) which outlines forecasts Qatar will be able to reclaim its title of top exporter from the United States in the near future.

Such outlooks make clear there’s not a short term swing to actual green sources of energy over the next decades.