Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters
“The Europeans today are saying there’s no way we’re going back” to buying Russian gas, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, energy minister and head of state gas company QatarEnergy, said at the Atlantic Council Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time… they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity [of energy intake].”
Europe has long been Russia’s largest customer of most energy commodities, especially natural gas. EU countries have dramatically cut down their imports of Russian energy supplies, imposing sanctions in response to Moscow’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Gas exports from Russian state energy giant Gazprom to Switzerland and the EU fell by 55% in 2022, the company said earlier this month. The cut in imports has dramatically increased energy costs for Europe, sending leaders and oil and gas executives scrambling to develop new sources of energy and shore up alternative supplies.
“But Russian gas is going back, in my view, to Europe,” al-Kaabi said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far taken tens, if not hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed entire cities, and exiled more than 8 million people as refugees. Russian missiles and drone strikes regularly hit and decimate residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and vital energy infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power.
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Europe has managed to avert a major crisis this winter, owing to mild weather and substantial stocks of gas amassed over the last year. Energy officials and analysts warn of a more precarious situation in late 2023, when these supplies run out.
“Luckily they [Europe] haven’t had a very high demand for gas due to the warmer weather,” al-Kaabi said. “The issue is what’s going to happen when they want to replenish their storages this coming year, and there isn’t much gas coming into the market until ’25, ’26, ’27 … So I think it’s going to be a volatile situation for some time.”
Later during the conference, CNBC spoke to the CEO of Italian energy company Eni, Claudio Descalzi, who pushed back on the Qatari minister’s comments.
“I think that the war is still there, and it is not easy to forgive anybody when you kill innocent people, women and children and bomb hospitals,” Descalzi told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “And so I think that more than forgive, we have to understand the sense of life for our…
Read More: Russian gas will eventually return to Europe as nations ‘forgive and forget,’ Qatari