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On Friday, Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would not resume supplying natural gas to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming a turbine malfunction.

Hannibal Hankske |: Reuters:

Following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union’s withdrawal from Russian energy supplies will not last forever, Qatar’s energy minister said at a weekend energy conference.

“The Europeans are saying today that there is no way we can go back” to buying Russian gas, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, the energy minister and head of state-owned gas company QatarEnergy, said at the Atlantic Council energy forum in Abu Dhabi.

“We are all blessed to be able to forget and forgive. And I think things sort themselves out over time… they learn from that situation and probably have a lot more diversity. [of energy intake]”.

Europe has long been Russia’s largest customer for most energy sources, especially natural gas. EU countries have sharply cut their imports of Russian energy, imposing sanctions in response to Moscow’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Gas exports from Russian state energy giant Gazprom to Switzerland and the EU are set to drop by 55 percent in 2022, the company said earlier this month. The cut in imports has sharply increased energy costs for Europe, forcing leaders and oil and gas executives to scramble to develop new energy sources and secure alternative supplies.

“However, in my opinion, Russian gas is returning to Europe,” al-Kaabi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far claimed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives, destroyed entire cities, and displaced more than 8 million people as refugees. Russian missiles and drones regularly strike and destroy residential buildings, schools, hospitals and vital energy infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians without electricity.

A residential building destroyed after a Russian missile attack in Dnipro, Ukraine on January 15, 2023.

Global Images Ukraine |: Getty Images News |: Getty Images:

Europe managed to avert a major crisis this winter thanks to mild weather and significant gas reserves built up over the past year. Energy officials and analysts warn of a more volatile situation in late 2023, when those reserves run out.

“Fortunately they are [Europe] due to the hot weather, they did not have a very high demand for gas,” al-Kaabi said. “The problem is what will happen when they want to replenish their storage this year and gas is very low. the market up to 25, 26, 27… So I think it’s going to be a volatile situation for a while.”

Later in the conference, CNBC spoke with Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italian energy company Eni, who pushed back on the Qatari minister’s comments.

“I think the war is still there and it’s not easy to forgive anybody when you’re killing innocent people, women and children and bombing hospitals,” Descalzi told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “And so I think that more than forgiving, we need to understand the meaning of life for our words. For our modern war because it [what is] takes place there. So when we talk about energy security, we’re talking about financing, how you allocate your money, how much gas, how much renewable energy, and you think people are killing near you or far away from you… I mean. priority, that’s what we have to solve.”

“Otherwise,” added the CEO, “there’s a big elephant in the room.” We hide such things from ourselves, and when we hide something; [it] comes back bigger and bigger. If you are forgiving, it means that you don’t look at it, you don’t think that we should solve this kind of issue.”

Descalzi said that the war in Ukraine and energy security are his and his industry’s priorities. Italy has dramatically reduced its dependence on Russian gas, replacing it with energy sources from alternative producers such as Algeria. On Sunday, Eni announced a new gas discovery in an offshore field in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Egypt.

“To be honest, energy security is a big issue… but I think the priority in 2023 is Ukraine,” Descalzi said. That’s from my point of view. It is Russia. It’s the relationship with China.”

“I’m not a politician,” he added, “but I think you can’t manage and talk about money, talk about energy and industry, it’s clear that if you don’t look at it, a lot of people will suffer. But on the other hand, you talk about freedom, democracy and people dying.”

"This year is going to be about war" in Ukraine, says presidential adviser Amos Hochstein



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