Regional

Qatar sees Brexit as chance to supply U.K. more gas: minister

Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar and President of the OPEC Conference gestures during a news conference after the 169th Ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, on June 2, 2016. AFP PHOTO / HANS PUNZ

DOHA: Qatar sees Britain’s exit from the European Union as an opportunity to boost supplies of liquefied natural gas to the world’s fifth-largest economy and is open to investing in British energy assets, Qatar’s energy minister said. It has 40 billion pounds ($50 billion) of investments in Britain and delivers 90 percent of Britain’s imports of liquefied natural gas.

Qatar pledged 5 billion pounds of investment in Britain Monday in a show of support as Prime Minister Theresa May begins the formal process of negotiating a divorce settlement with the EU.

“The U.K. will have a new era post-Brexit. ... The negotiations will start among Europeans and nobody is extremely clear about where the negotiations will lead to,” Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada said late Monday.

“However, we can sense the possibility of the U.K.’s manufacturing power going higher, and with that the need for energy. For that, Qatar will always be there to supply the energy required. Certainly we can contribute to the U.K.’s need.”

Britain started receiving LNG from Qatar in 2008 via ships that dock at South Hook in Kent, one of Europe’s largest LNG terminals, which is owned by Qatar.

Qatar faces rising competition in Asia from other LNG producers as new projects in the United States and Australia come online in the next few years, and Doha has said it will focus on expanding contracts in Europe.

“Europe is an important market. The U.K. is a very important market,” Sada said.

When global oversupply of gas peaks in the next two to three years, a possible rise in demand for energy in Europe and Britain could present an opportunity for Qatar, he added.

Doha has made billions of dollars securing long-term contracts with Asian consumers such as Japan and has the world’s largest fleet of LNG carriers.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 29, 2017, on page 4.

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