Impossible to quickly replace Russian LNG supplies to Europe: Qatar

In a statement Qatar’s energy minister said, not a single country, including Qatar, has the capacity to replace Russian gas supplies to Europe with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the event of disruption due to a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Since the bulk of Qatari LNG volumes are locked up in long-term contracts with mostly Asian buyers, the ability to divert LNG volumes to Europe is only 10-15%, said Saad al-Kaabi.

Kaabi’s comments underscore concerns over Europe’s gas security in the midst of escalating ties between Russia and Ukraine .

“Russia (provides) I think 30-40% of the supply to Europe. There is no single country that can replace that kind of volume, there isn’t the capacity to do that from LNG,” said Kaabi at a gas conference in Doha. “Most of the LNG are tied to long-term contracts and destinations that are very clear. So, to replace that sum of volume that quickly is almost impossible”.

In recent weeks, the US, Japan and other countries have approached Qatar to reroute gas supplies to Europe in case the Ukraine-Russian conflict escalates.

According to sources, Qatari LNG exports have been lower over the past few days since two of its mega trains have been down, which again could limit the spare amount of LNG that can sent to Europe.

Earlier this month Japan said, it will divert some LNG cargoes to Europe after requests from the United States and the European Union. However, the cargos that arrived to Europe were part of a joint venture between Japan’s JERA and France’s EDF; there has been no increment in additional supplies.

Currently facing a cold spell that has depleted LNG inventories, Japan is experiencing re-stocking demand and so it needs more LNG supply.

“We’ve not seen anything concrete happen to supply yet. That could obviously change, but clearly, Qatar and Japan will be limited in their ability to help with extra cargoes if Europe loses access to Russian gas,” said Robert Songer, a LNG analyst at commodities intelligence firm ICIS.

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