The US wants European countries to find other gas suppliers to Russia, with resource-rich Qatar as a possible alternative.
Deputy US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Reuters that Washington was in talks with Doha to supply gas to Europe, and particularly countries that are reliant on Russian gas.
Russian gas accounts for around 60 percent of Berlin’s gas imports, with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline set to double Moscow’s export capacity to Germany.
US President Donald Trump has warned Germany that it would be “captive” to Russia if it relied on it as a gas supplier and urged Berlin to halt work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
The move could see German companies face US sanctions.
Brouillette said he has held talks Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi about whether Doha could be an alternative gas supplies to Europe.
“We are talking to Minister Kaabi here about other markets, specifically Europe, to the extent that we can talk to the Qataris about supplying European markets with natural gas,” he said in an interview.
“They are very much interested in that and so are we – it’s very connected to deliberations with others we have around Nord Stream 2.”
He added that Qatar could help diversify the gas market in Europe, particularly with Doha’s investments in LNG export facilities.
“It is good for the national security of Europe. Cheap gas comes at a high price of freedom,” said Brouillette.
Last September, Qatar said it would invest $11.6 billion in Germany over the next five years including in a LNG terminal.
Omid Shokri Kalehsar, a Washington-based senior energy security analyst, told The New Arab that Washington has been encouraging European countries to diversify Russian-dominated energy supplies, with Qatar and the US as possible alternative suppliers.
“It is in the US’ interest allow Qatar to export to specific markets,” said Kalehsar, saying Doha’s supplies play a key role in Washington’s strategy of providing balance in the market.
“Increasing LNG supplies is the best way to reduce [Europe’s] dependency on Russian natural gas…. Qatar is a major LNG provider and is trying to increase its share in the market. Russia is trying to keep its monopoly in Europe – with energy – and has used different pricing strategies to do this.”
Russia has sold a stake of its shares in Rosneft to Qatar, as Doha battles a blockade from a Saudi-led coalition.
Turkey is also boosting its relationship with Russia with the construction of the TurkStream pipelines.