Qatar criticizes pace of EU gas liberalization

Feb 05, 2003 01:00 AM

Qatar's Minister of Energy Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah has criticized the pace of EU gas market liberalization, saying it isn't consulting gas producers and deters investment.
Speaking ahead of a Gas Exporting Countries Forum meeting in the Qatari capital Doha, Al-Attiyah was quoted as saying: "How can I invest billions of dollars, for example, when in five years time this investment is jeopardized?"

Al-Attiyah was referring to the EU's move away from long-term gas-purchase contracts to shorter-term ones, which the GECF has criticized. Al-Attiyah, who is also the president of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries, said: "I think consumers are... trying to create a deregulated market that will suit them, but not considering the needs for the overall market. This is just encouraging more obstacles to development."
The supplement, produced on behalf of the GECF, also quoted Algeria's Minister of Energy and Mines Chakib Khelil as saying the loosening of the EU market "has to be smooth otherwise the European Commission will create a difficult situation for companies and producing countries." He forecast the "liberalized market is not going to be here either this year or next. It will take a long time to set up."

The vice president of Algeria's state-run oil and gas company Sonatrach, Ali Hached, said in the supplement that running a pipeline under the sea was less complex than securing the sales contracts for the gas it contained. The company, he added, aimed to increase the capacity of its pipeline to Spain and Portugal from 8 bn cmpy to up to 12 bn cmpy.
The vice chairman of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Yuri Komarov, threw his weight behind the call for long-term contracts to be maintained, saying: "Liberalization is good but it is worth considering the consequences of destroying the investment climate as well."

Source: Dow Jones
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