Qatar to host gas exporters summit as Ukraine crisis simmers

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With Europe fearing for its gas supplies amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Qatar will host a summit of top natural gas exporters including Russia this month.

The United States has sought the help of its close ally Qatar in providing emergency supplies if pipelines to Western Europe are cut, according to US officials.

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Organizers did not immediately confirm whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would attend the annual Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit on February 22.

Russia, Iran and Qatar are key members of the forum which will also hold two days of ministerial meetings. The US and Australia, two other leading exporters, are not part of the group.

US President Joe Biden vowed on Monday, during a meeting with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, to shut the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe if Moscow launches an invasion of Ukraine.

The massive new pipeline has been completed, but has yet to begin funneling natural gas to Germany, a route tying energy-hungry Europe ever closer to Russia.

The EU has also been seeking alternatives to Russian gas in case of an energy crisis. EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson visited Azerbaijan, an observer member of the gas forum, on Friday in an effort to diversify the continent’s energy sources.

The GECF says its 11 members and seven associate countries account for 70 percent of proven gas reserves and 51 percent of global liquefied natural gas exports.

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