Qatar says it cannot unilaterally replace Europe's gas needs in case of shortage

Gas pipes are pictured at Gas Connect Austria's gas distribution node in Baumgarten
Gas pipes are pictured at Gas Connect Austria's gas distribution node in Baumgarten some 40 km (25 miles) east of Vienna March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

DOHA, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Qatar, one of the world's top natural gas exporters, will not be able to unilaterally replace Europe's energy needs in case of a shortage due to the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, the emirate's minister of state for energy said on Tuesday.

“The volume of gas needed by the EU cannot be replaced by anyone unilaterally, without disturbing supplies to other regions around the world," the minister, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, said in a statement.

"Europe’s energy security requires a collective effort from many parties.”

Kaabi issued the statement after a meeting in Doha with the European Union’s Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.

Kaabi expressed hope that "tensions in Europe can be resolved diplomatically, so that all suppliers can work together to ensure energy security for the short- and long-terms".

Qatar is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East region and a leading trade and political partner of the EU.

The United States is concerned that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine and has in recent weeks asked Qatar and other major gas producers to study if they can supply extra gas to Europe if Russian flows are disrupted. read more

“Keeping our contractual word is sacrosanct in Qatar,'' said Kaabi, implying that it will not be possible to divert to Europe gas shipments already contracted for delivery to other countries without their consent.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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