Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz is likely to sign delivery contracts for natural gas during a two-day trip to the Middle East.

Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz is likely to sign delivery contracts for natural gas during a two-day trip to the Middle East. (Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

Germany may secure supplies of liquefied natural gas from the United Arab Emirates in the coming days as part of the country’s push to offset Russia’s moves to slash supplies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz is likely to sign delivery contracts during a two-day trip to the Middle East, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday, indicating that talks are well-advanced especially with the UAE.

“The gas supply is gradually broadening and the government is permanently in talks with many countries, also with nations on the Arabian peninsula,” Habeck said. “The chancellor is traveling next week to the UAE and will certainly be able to sign some contracts for LNG there.”

“But it’s not only the UAE, it’s other countries, African countries,” he said during a press conference in Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic coast. “In that way, we’ll close the hole that the lack of Russian gas has ripped open.”

Scholz also plans to travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the trip, which starts Saturday. Energy cooperation is high on his agenda, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a regular news conference in Berlin on Monday.

A deal with the UAE could be a boost for Scholz as the government struggles to offset Russian deliveries after the Kremlin shut down a key pipeline. Officials have grown increasingly concerned about blackouts and rationing this winter.

Germany and Qatar have been in talks about possible LNG shipments since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. There have been no signs of a breakthrough in the negotiations so far.

Negotiations with one of the world’s biggest LNG exporters have been especially difficult, according to German government officials. They have described Qatar’s strategy as playing hardball over the price and duration of potential agreements.

Discussions with gas suppliers in Europe and North America have proven similarly complex, underlining the uphill struggle Scholz and his government face in sealing short-term supplies to help Europe’s biggest economy avoid shortages this winter.

Scholz’s first stop on his trip will be to Saudi Arabia, where he’ll meet with the king as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler. On Sunday, he’ll be in the UAE and Qatar, before returning to Berlin in the evening.

The German leader will be accompanied by “a high-ranking business delegation,” Hebestreit said, without giving further details.

Germany’s Economy Ministry said Thursday that a first test delivery of green hydrogen from the UAE had arrived in Hamburg, part of a push to establish a “comprehensive hydrogen value chain between Germany and the UAE.”

“The pilot delivery lays an important foundation for medium-term imports of hydrogen, which will then also be green,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.

While Saudi Arabia isn’t an LNG exporter, it’s investing billions of dollars in blue and green hydrogen. The country has also come under pressure from Europe and the U.S. this year to pump more oil and bring down prices after their surge in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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