“Gas without Putin” – Germany’s new energy doctrine

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Berlin’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, announced on Sunday that an agreement had been reached with the Qatari authorities on an energy partnership to supply Germany with liquefied natural gas from the Gulf emirate. Russian gas will no longer be needed in the future, Habeck assured, according to the dpa news agency, quoted by the prestigious German weekly Stern, in its online edition.

It is a first step on Germany’s path to a new era, that of gas “without Putin,” said Robert Habeck, who met with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, a meeting that resulted in a more better than expected.

Habeck said a long-term energy partnership had been agreed “very firmly”. The representatives of the German companies that accompanied him to Qatar will now enter into the actual contractual negotiations with the Qatari side, he added.

At the end of his statement, Habeck, a member of the Green Party, then sent a message to Vladimir Putin:

“If we need more Russian gas, this could happen this year, not in the future. And I just started. So whoever has ears to hear, let him hear. ”

The German industrial colossus in the new world order

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has brought German energy policy to a turning point. So far, the share of Russian imports in total gas imports from Germany has been around 55%. For this reason, Habeck vehemently rejected an embargo on Russian supplies and warned of the serious damage that such a decision would cause to the German economy.

That being the case, the way out of this situation can only be to diversify the sources and structure of imports.

“The way out of this deadlock lies in several landmarks,” Habeck said.

That is why the Minister of Economy has already been to Norway, has already held talks with Canada, and the economic-diplomatic tour has now continued in Qatar, this weekend. The Emirate is one of the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Qatar has so far delivered mainly to Asian markets, but plans to significantly expand its export capacity in the coming years.

His trip to Qatar was motivated by the fact that several German companies were already in contractual negotiations with Qatari companies, Habeck said. However, negotiations between companies would have needed a “motivational boost” at the government level.

Habeck sees himself as a “door opener” for the German economy, and the program of his visit to Doha was extremely rich, precisely in this context.

In addition to the emir, he met with the Minister of Economy, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Energy of Doha. The German delegation also included many top managers: the heads of industrial giants such as Thyssenkrupp, Bayer, Siemens Energy and many others.

RWE Director-General Markus Krebber says the Gulf region, and Qatar in particular, is an extremely important space for energy supply for the whole world, and therefore for Europe as well:

“As we in Germany want to diversify our sources of supply, the importance of the Gulf will increase even more,” he said.

Objectives of Germany’s new energy supply strategy

Qatar is a cornerstone of Habeck’s strategy – which includes short, medium and long-term goals.

In the short term, Qatar’s LNG deliveries are intended to help secure gas supplies to Germany for the coming winter.

In the medium term, Qatar’s LNG will be received through new terminals, which Germany will build in the coming period.

Although LNG is more expensive than the gas that Germany received from Russia, no one now knows how and how long the war in Ukraine will continue. In addition, even if the acute phase of the conflict ends, no one knows if Putin will not stop supplying gas to “unfriendly countries.” Therefore, its own high-capacity LNG terminal should ensure Germany’s stable energy supply.

In the long run, however – and this is the biggest goal – Germany wants to get rid of fossil fuels completely, according to the Greens, a party that also includes Robert Habeck.

Climate neutrality is to be achieved by 2045, and the continuation of the economic and diplomatic tour of the high dignitary in Berlin is directly linked to this plan.

Habeck will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, where he will tackle the subject of green hydrogen, which is produced without CO2 emissions on the basis of renewable energy and is intended to allow decarbonisation in Germany’s steel and chemical industries, which are so dependent on fossil fuels.

In fact, the energy partnership with Qatar will not be limited to LNG supply, Habeck said after meeting with the Emir of Doha, but will include, at a later stage, the expansion of renewable energies and energy efficiency measures.

Qatar, washed overnight of all sins

It was not an easy visit for Habeck at all, as he himself spoke of “diplomatically unstable ground.”

Since the controversial award of hosting the World Cup in football this year, international public opinion has repeatedly vehemently criticized the human rights situation in the autocratic-led emirate.

There are construction workers all over Qatar, mainly from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, whose difficult working conditions have caused storms in the Western press, a topic that Habeck also addressed in talks with dignitaries in Doha.

“It’s unacceptable for people here to live in poverty and be exploited,” he said.

Qatari authorities have assured that the situation will improve and added that Qatar is the first Arab country to introduce a minimum wage for workers, and they no longer have to work in the scorching heat of the Gulf.

It’s just that, for now, all this is just a promise.