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Qatar’s energy minister warns ‘worst yet to come’ for Europe’s oil, gas shortages

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Qatar’s energy minister warned on Tuesday the “worst is yet to come” for Europe’s oil and gas shortages, saying a warm winter had prevented greater difficulties in recent months.

Saad al-Kaabi and his Saudi counterpart Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said a lack of investment in oil and gas, as the world tries to transition to cleaner fuels to prevent global warming, risked causing an energy crunch.

“The only thing that saved humanity and Europe this year was a warm winter, and the slowdown in the economy,” Qatari Energy Minister Saad Al-Kaabi told the Qatar Economic Forum.

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“If the economy starts churning back up in (2024) and you have just a regular winter, I think the worst is yet to come.”

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked an energy supply crisis, Europe dodged serious problems this past winter largely because of milder-than-expected temperatures.

But Kaabi and Prince Abdulaziz both told the conference further problems were looming.

“If (European leaders have) a proper plan and sit down with producers, and oil and gas companies are not demonized, reality will kick in and we’ll have a sensible solution” Kaabi said.

Qatar has announced a series of major gas supply deals and is engaged in developing North Field, which contains the world's biggest natural gas deposits, raising its production to 126 million tonnes per year by 2027.

Demand is so great that all the expanded production for the North Field East and North Field South could be tied up in long-term deals by the end of the year, Kaabi said.

“There is a potential that we will run out of all the gas from the NFE and NFS by the end of the year, as far as long-term contracts,” he said. “That's obviously a very big demand.”

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz also said Europe was “rescued by a gift of God” last winter, and said global energy security was at risk from “kicking the can policies.”

“Energy security is being shackled. We’re running out of capacity, because countries are not investing both in oil and gas,” he said.

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