Qatar looks to profit from Europe gas fears over Ukraine
Stay tunned with 24 News HD Android App
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will ensure some kind of assistance, however, as he seeks a bigger share of the European market for Qatar's burgeoning offshore gas production and to score valuable points over its neighbours in becoming the key US ally in the Gulf.
The sheikh, whose tiny country has increased its diplomatic initiatives to match its status as an energy colossus, has the Ukraine crisis, efforts to engage the hardline Taliban administration in Afghanistan and backroom talks on reviving a nuclear accord with Iran on the agenda for his White House meeting with President Joe Biden, officials said.
The United States is also in contact with Australia about providing alternative supplies and could send more of its own production, diplomats said.
"Talks are going on" over diverting some liquefied natural gas from Asian markets to Europe if President Vladimir Putin cuts supplies to western Europe, a Qatari official told AFP ahead of the meeting.
There are precedents for Qatar helping friends in need.
It sent supplies to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and four special cargoes to Britain in October to address sudden shortages.
- Higher price -
"Qatar has no magic wand to fix shortfalls in European gas," said Bill Farren-Price, director of intelligence for the Enverus energy consultancy.
"It does not have any spare capacity to supply additional LNG. It is not the same as Saudi Arabia, which maintains spare capacity in oil," he added.
Qatar, which is also in talks with the European Union and Britain, could redirect a number of shipments.
"Any shortfall in European gas is going to ripple out and have impacts on the Asian LNG market as well," Farren-Price said.
And European consumers -- already facing record gas bills -- would have to pay an even higher cost. "Price wise it could be quite challenging," he predicted.
"This could mean gaining some credit in Europe and using it as a negotiating point to start talking about long-term contracts, which is what the country is interested in."
"They want to push themselves into that slot as the most important strategic ally for the US in the Gulf," said Krieg.
"They are getting influence building networks in Washington that are institutional rather than tied to individuals or parties.
"They want to be seen as a core strategic ally," ahead of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.