The European Commission does not want to respond to a story in the Financial Times, which wrote that a cartel investigation into the state-owned QatarEnergy has been closed. This was revealed at a press conference today.
The topic is sensitive, with sources in the Financial Times saying high energy prices played a role in the decision to close the investigation.
The cartel’s investigation looks into supply contracts between Qatar Energy and various European importers. These would potentially conflict with European rules, as they impede the free trade of gas within the EU.
Gas prices have been very high since the fall. This has recently been exacerbated by concerns about Russian deliveries to Europe. However, tensions over Ukraine are no reason to suspend the investigation, the Financial Times wrote. It is said that the European Union first considered putting the matter on hold when prices rose dramatically and governments had to fear energy poverty among their citizens.
Qatari gas can be a godsend. The petro-state is one of the world’s largest LNG producers. Most of this gas now goes to Asia. But the United States has asked the Qataris to supply more to Europe if supplies falter.
And the cartel’s investigation could be an obstacle in this regard. When prices began to rise last year, Qatar’s Energy Minister Al Kaabi said Europe needed to send a “clear signal” about whether or not it “wanted to increase investment in gas and additional supplies from Qatar”. About the cartel’s investigation, he said it was unfounded.
The commission does not want to comment on “press stories” about the temporary suspension of the investigation. It says the screening is “ongoing” and nothing can be said about the schedule or the outcome.
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