Qatar is willing to help the UK with its cost of living crisis, the country’s energy minister has said – but he also criticised western countries who spent years “demonising oil and gas companies”.
In an exclusive interview, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said that years of pushing for a rapid end to fossil fuel production and calling producers the “bad guys” had contributed to the current crisis.
“It’s definitely a deeper issue,” he said – pointing out that investment in gas production had fallen steadily in recent years, as Europe pushed to eliminate carbon emissions sooner in an effort to combat climate change.
“There was a build up of countries pushing for the [energy] transition in a hard way. [They pushed for] net-zero, moving to renewables, doing away with fossil fuels and demonising the oil and gas companies, [calling them] the bad guys. And [as a result] you don’t have enough investment in the oil and gas sector.”
The comments came as a Qatari delegation, led by the country’s leader, the Emir, met with Boris Johnson to announce a “Strategic Investment Partnership” under which Qatar will invest up to £10bn across the UK.
However, with energy regulator Ofgem signalling that the price cap will rise to £2,800 this winter – the highest level on record – there is little instant remedy for the wholesale gas prices being faced by the UK.
The energy minister said: “The wind does not always blow, and the sun does not shine all the time… We are absolutely convinced that you can’t achieve that transition [to renewables] without fossil fuels. And the best fossil fuel available to mankind is gas.”
Qatar has the world’s third-biggest proven natural gas reserves, and is now one of the biggest providers of the fuel to the UK, shipping it in vast liquefied natural gas tankers to Britain’s three LNG terminals.
The minister said the UK was “in better shape than a lot of other countries” but that there was little Qatar could do to bring the price down in the short run.
“Unfortunately, it’s a little bit painful because it will take time [and the price is] amplified by the Ukraine issue,” he said.
“But we’re absolutely ready [to help]. The UK is a very important country for us in Europe, and we will definitely do our best.”