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ENERGY

French energy giant makes major new investment in Qatar gas to secure supply

France's TotalEnergies on Saturday signed a $1.5 billion investment in Qatar's natural gas production expansion, which comes as Europe scrambles to find new energy sources to replace Russian supplies.

TotalEnergies logo
This file photo shows the logo of French oil and gas company TotalEnergies. The firm has made a second investment into Qatar's natural gas expansion.  Astrid VELLGUTH / AFP

The French energy firm will have 9.3 percent stake in the North Field South gas project, the first foreign partner in that section of the vast field, Qatar Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi announced, at a news
conference alongside TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne.

“Qatar Energy announces the selection of TotalEnergies as a partner for the development of the North Field South,” Qatar’s official news agency QNA said. “New partners will be announced at a later stage.”

Kaabi said TotalEnergies would also help to finance the extraction of gas from North Field South, for which 25 percent would be reserved for foreign energy firms.

The French firm would take on an “enhanced strategic” role in Qatar’s gas expansion, he added.

In June, TotalEnergies agreed a $2-billion deal to take part in the giant North Field East project, that will help Qatar increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production by more than 60 percent by 2027.

Pouyanne, who said Saturday the latest deal would require another $1.5 billion, said his firm would have taken an even bigger chunk of the production if it was possible.

“We need new capacity for sure, and this will be coming at the perfect timing,” he told reporters.

“Most of the leaders of the world have discovered the words LNG,” he said, adding that European countries had to be prepared to strike more long-term deals — and possibly pay a higher price to guarantee energy.

“For security of supply, there is a price,” Pouyanne said.

READ ALSO: France’s TotalEnergies to sell stake in war-linked Russian gas field

Cost of security

Kaabi, who is to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday during his tour of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, refused to discuss negotiations with European countries, but said some are “more advanced” than others.

He confirmed Qatar was also in talks with Britain.

Shell of Britain, Eni of Italy and United States giants ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil have also signed up to be part of the North Field East project.

More companies will be announced for the North Field South in coming weeks, officials said, but TotalEnergies will have the largest foreign slice.

Qatar is already one of the world’s top LNG producers, alongside the United States and Australia, and LNG from North Field is expected to start coming on line in 2026.

State-owned Qatar Energy estimates that North Field holds about 10 percent of the world’s known natural gas reserves.

The reserves extend under the sea into Iranian territory, where Tehran’s efforts to exploit its South Pars gas field have been hindered by international sanctions.

South Korea, Japan and China have been the main markets for Qatar’s LNG.

But since an energy crisis hit Europe last year, the Gulf state has helped Britain with extra supplies, and also announced a cooperation deal with Germany.

Europe has in the past rejected the long-term deals that Qatar seeks for its energy, but a change in attitude has been forced since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Qatar’s gas is among the cheapest to produce and has fuelled an economic boom in the tiny state, which has become one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

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ENERGY

French regulator approves state bid to renationalise power giant

France's financial markets regulator has approved the state's plan to fully control heavily indebted national power utility EDF that is to spearhead efforts to relaunch the country's nuclear industry.

French regulator approves state bid to renationalise power giant

The French state, which already owns 84 percent of EDF, filed a takeover offer with the regulator in October with a view to acquiring the remaining
capital at €12 per share.

The offer complies with stock market rules, the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) said in a statement.

The acquisition of the shares is due to take place up to December 8. If the French state takes its holding to 90 percent, it can force other shareholders to sell.

The entire takeover operation is expected to cost €9.7 billion.

The French government had signalled its intention to fully reabsorb EDF in July. The firm could be saddled with a record debt of €60 billion by the end
of the year.

It wants to build six new-generation nuclear reactors with an option to acquire eight others, with the strategic full acquisition of EDF aiming to send a signal of confidence.

France relies heavily on nuclear power for its electricity generation, but its oldest reactors are reaching the end of their service lives.

EDF’s efforts to build a new generation of nuclear power plants have faced massive delays and cost overruns, with some of its facilities unavailable due to corrosion problems, scheduled maintenance and strikes.

A price shield that protects French consumers from excessively high energy price hikes has also contributed to its financial struggles.

Small shareholders, mostly former and current staff, have disputed the takeover bid, asking for at least €15 per share, but their legal action has so far been unsuccessful.

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