Paris (Times Of Ocean)- The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has begun an official tour of Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait on Monday in response to an energy crisis caused by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry said he met with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on the first leg of his tour to discuss “the ongoing efforts to put an end to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, its consequences on international hydrocarbon markets and the need to diversify the gas supplies of European countries.”
During the talks, Le Drian will discuss gas and oil supplies to Europe in the context of the Ukraine war with his counterparts in Oman and Kuwait, according to the statement. Along with the regional crises in Yemen and Lebanon, he will also discuss bilateral issues. However, the focus of his trip will be on ensuring Europe’s energy security amid global sanctions against Russia and rising crude prices.
In addition to his visit to the Persian Gulf, other European leaders have also visited the region to persuade the oil-rich region to increase its oil and gas supply to supply their energy needs.
A German delegation led by Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck visited Qatar last week to discuss gas supplies to Europe, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to discuss oil production.
Le Drian also spoke with his Saudi and Emirati counterparts over the phone about the energy issue and emphasized the need for “strong international mobilization” in response to Russia’s aggression before leaving for the Gulf.
Although the Arab nations on the Persian Gulf shores have developed close ties with Moscow, they are cautiously keeping a neutral stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The UAE has encouraged OPEC member countries to boost oil production despite Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)’s largest producer, rebuffing calls from American and European leaders to increase oil production.
Meanwhile, Qatar — which has close ties with Iran and militia groups — has offered to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, and Kuwait has stressed the importance of defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Europe is desperately seeking alternative sources for petroleum products, natural gas, and crude oil to reduce its dependence on Russia, the EU’s number one energy supplier, due to the war in Ukraine. Due to possible disruptions in Russia’s gas and oil supplies, Europe’s energy security is under threat.
Over the next decade, France plans to be independent of Russia in terms of its energy needs.
It is the goal of the French presidency of the European Council to pursue energy independence for the EU in the coming decade, which can be achieved by diversifying supplies and sources of oil and gas.