Amir sends let­ter to Qatar leader, re­ceives Oman FM

Qatar calls for di­a­logue, to boost gas pro­duc­tion

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT/DOHA: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s en­voy, ad­vi­sor at the Amiri Di­wan Khaled Yousef Al-Fu­laij yes­ter­day de­liv­ered a let­ter from the Amir to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani. Sep­a­rately, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah met Omani Af­fairs Min­is­ter For­eign Yusuf bin Alawi bin Ab­dul­lah at Bayan Palace yes­ter­day.

Mean­while, Qatar said yes­ter­day that the de­mands made by na­tions in the Gulf diplo­matic cri­sis were im­pos­si­ble to meet, as a dead­line was fast ap­proach­ing for the emi­rate to re­spond. For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man Al-Thani told a press con­fer­ence in Doha that the list of de­mands from coun­tries iso­lat­ing Qatar “is un­re­al­is­tic and is not ac­tion­able”. “It’s not about ter­ror­ism, it’s talk­ing about shut­ting down the free­dom of speech,” he said at a joint press con­fer­ence af­ter talks with Ger­man coun­ter­part Sig­mar Gabriel.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt - who ac­cuse Qatar of sup­port­ing ex­trem­ism gave Doha an ex­tra 48 hours to meet their de­mands af­ter an ini­tial 10-day dead­line ex­pired on Sun­day. The de­mands in­cluded Doha end­ing sup­port for the Mus­lim Brother­hood, clos­ing broad­caster Al-Jazeera, down­grad­ing diplo­matic ties with Iran and shut­ting down a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base in the emi­rate.

Sheikh Mo­hammed handed an of­fi­cial re­sponse on Mon­day to Kuwait, which is me­di­at­ing in the dis­pute, but its con­tents have not been dis­closed.

He re­fused to give any fur­ther de­tails yes­ter­day, but said Doha was look­ing for a so­lu­tion to the month­long cri­sis based on di­a­logue. “The state of Qatar has adopted a very con­struc­tive at­ti­tude since the be­gin­ning of the cri­sis. We are try­ing to act ma­ture and dis­cuss the mat­ter.”

The four coun­tries cut diplo­matic and trans­port links with Qatar a month ago and have sug­gested fur­ther sanc­tions could be im­posed if Doha does not com­ply. For­eign min­is­ters from the four coun­tries are to meet in Egypt to­day to dis­cuss the diplo­matic cri­sis, the worst to hit the re­gion in years. Qatar, which de­nies any sup­port for ex­trem­ists, has said it will not bow to pres­sure and that the de­mands seem de­signed to be re­jected.

The coun­try is the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer of Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (LNG) and yes­ter­day the head of state-owned Qatar Pe­tro­leum said it was plan­ning a sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion in­crease over the next sev­eral years. Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told a press con­fer­ence that the emi­rate in­tends to be pro­duc­ing 100 mil­lion tonnes of nat­u­ral gas a year by 2024, up 30 per­cent from cur­rent lev­els. “This new project will strengthen Qatar’s lead­ing po­si­tion,” Kaabi said. “We will re­main the leader of LNG for a very long time.”

Some of­fi­cials have sug­gested if Qatar does not co­op­er­ate Riyadh and its al­lies could tell for­eign com­pa­nies to choose be­tween do­ing busi­ness with them or with Doha. Kaabi said Qatar wanted the pro­duc­tion in­crease to be car­ried out through a joint ven­ture with in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies but that Doha could go it alone if nec­es­sary. “We have ab­so­lutely no fear of hav­ing the em­bargo in place,” he said. “If there are no com­pa­nies will­ing to work with us we will go to 100 mil­lion (tonnes), 100 per­cent.”

Riyadh and its al­lies have also ac­cused Doha of be­ing too close to their re­gional arch-ri­val Iran, which shares an enor­mous gas field with Qatar in the Gulf. The cri­sis has raised con­cerns of grow­ing in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, home to some of the world’s largest en­ergy ex­porters and key West­ern al­lies who host US mil­i­tary bases. Qatar’s gas riches have trans­formed it in re­cent years into one of the world’s wealth­i­est coun­tries, a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional in­vestor and a re­gional player that will host the 2022 foot­ball World Cup. In 1997, when its first ship­ment of LNG sailed to Ja­pan, Qatar’s ex­ports were val­ued at around $5 bil­lion. That fig­ure had reached $125 bil­lion by 2014, ac­cord­ing to trade data site the Ob­ser­va­tory of Eco­nomic Com­plex­ity.

Qatar also does not have any cur­rent plans to stop ex­port­ing gas to the UAE, Kaabi added, but he said he would not rule it out if the cri­sis con­tin­ued. “Of course if there were to be an ad­di­tional es­ca­la­tion, I can­not say that we will never stop the gas,” he said. “This is a de­ci­sion which would not only be made by Qatar Pe­tro­leum but also for the gov­ern­ment, and of course de­pends on the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.” Qatar cur­rently sends about 2 bil­lion cu ft (56 mil­lion cu m) of nat­u­ral gas a day to the UAE through the un­der­sea Dol­phin En­ergy pipe­line, pro­vid­ing about a third of that coun­try’s needs. About 200 mil­lion cu ft of that goes onto Oman.

With low pro­duc­tion costs and LNG fa­cil­i­ties closer to buy­ers in Europe and Asia, the Qatari move means US pro­duc­ers could strug­gle to sell their LNG com­pet­i­tively and projects still need­ing fi­nance could strug­gle to find in­vestors. The glut has al­ready driven down prices. Asian spot LNG prices LNG-AS have fallen more than 40 per­cent this year to $5.50 per mmBtu and by 70 per­cent from peaks in 2014. So far, the ma­jor­ity of LNG is sup­plied via long-term con­tracts be­tween pro­duc­ers and users which al­low lit­tle flex­i­bil­ity and in many cases also pre­vent im­porters from re­selling car­goes. With sup­plies far out­pac­ing de­mand, an­a­lysts ex­pect more and more LNG to be freely traded. Many pro­duc­ers have al­ready started to of­fer con­tracts with­out re­sale or des­ti­na­tion re­stric­tions.

Qatar has pur­sued a more in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy than many of its neigh­bors, who tend to fol­low the lead of re­gional pow­er­house Saudi Ara­bia. UAE For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Ab­dul­lah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said yes­ter­day it was “pre­ma­ture” to dis­cuss what fur­ther ac­tion might be taken against Qatar. Any mea­sures that are taken will be “within the frame­work of in­ter­na­tional law”, Sheikh Ab­dul­lah said at a press con­fer­ence in Abu Dhabi with Gabriel, who was on a re­gional tour. “Any in­de­pen­dent state has the right to take mea­sures against any party,” Sheikh Ab­dul­lah said, urg­ing Doha to lis­ten to “the voice of rea­son and wis­dom”. — Agen­cies


(Left) HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (right) meets Omani For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Yusuf bin Alawi bin Ab­dul­lah at Bayan Palace in Kuwait yes­ter­day. (Right) HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah’s en­voy, ad­vi­sor at the Amiri Di­wan Khaled Yousef Al-Fu­laij, de­liv­ers a let­ter from HH the Amir to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani (right) yes­ter­day in Doha.

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