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Despite major gas deal, energy giant warns consumers to turn down heating

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France's TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne at a signing ceremony in Doha
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TotalEnergies chief Patrick Pouyanne hailed a deal to expand production in the world’s biggest natural gas field in Qatar but told AFP on Sunday that more projects are needed and consumers will still have to “turn down the heating” to ease the growing price crisis.

The chairman and chief executive of the French multinational that is one of the world’s most powerful energy companies said putting two billion dollars into a joint venture with Qatar Energy was the company’s response to doubts expressed after it ended investment in Russia.

The deal for a 6.25-percent stake in the North Field East project was announced Sunday barely two months after TotalEnergies said it would pump no more money into Russia where it has huge natural gas interests.

Pouyanne, who has headed TotalEnergie since 2018, told AFP the deal was part of a “success story” with Qatar, where it struck a first accord in 1986. 

“It comes at the right time. Some were asking the question what would TotalEnergies do in place of Russia? This is the answer,” he said in an interview.

“We have announced projects in the United States. We wanted another one. We have added Qatar to the portfolio.”

The company is determined to remain a leader in liquefied natural gas (LNG), he stressed.

Pouyanne said his company would help build a new LNG train, or production factory, for North Field East but the speed of recovering the $2-billion investment would depend on market prices.

– Consumers beware – 

Higher energy prices have gripped Europe with some governments wondering how they will get through the next winter without Russian supplies which are being cut because of the Ukraine war.

Qatar, one of the world’s top three natural gas producers with the United States and Australia, has warned it cannot send more in the short term.

Pouyanne said that consumers “who want electricity all the time”, must use less.

“What consumers can do is turn down the heating a bit in Europe. At the moment there is no heating because it is summer. But my advice is not too much air conditioning either,” he said.

Pouyanne also said more investment in production is needed to “bring prices down”.

The new natural gas complex in Qatar will only be ready at the end of 2025 or early 2026, he said. “We need more to stabilise the market. That’s important.”

TotalEnergies, like Qatar Energy, also wants more medium- and long-term contracts in Europe.

European governments have in recent years refused long-term deals so they can take advantage of market falls.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced them to change their policy and many have made approaches to Qatar in recent months.

Qatar is attractive, Pouyanne added, because it sells to China, Japan, South Korea and India in Asia, but can also provide Europe.

“Competitive production costs, liquefication costs that benefit from economies of scale and a good position, that is why Qatar has become a leader for liquefied natural gas.”

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TotalEnergies takes $2 billion foothold in Qatar’s giant gas expansion

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Qatar's Energy Minister and CEO of QatarEnergy Saad Sherida al-Kaabi (R) and French energy group TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne attend a signing ceremony in Doha
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Qatar on Sunday named France’s TotalEnergies as its first foreign partner to expand the world’s largest natural gas field and eventually help ease Europe’s energy fears.

The French energy major will spend an estimated $2 billion for a 6.25-percent share of the giant North Field East project that will help Qatar increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production by more than 60 percent by 2027, TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told AFP.

Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi called the joint venture “a marriage more than an engagement” as it will last until 2054.

Other foreign firms will also take stakes in North Field with state-owned Qatar Energy (QE) but none will be bigger than TotalEnergies, said Kaabi, who did not reveal names.

Industry sources say ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips are all in line to take part in the giant $28-billion expansion, that Qatar had originally wanted to finance alone.

“We have finished the selection process and we have signed the agreements,” Kaabi said, adding that names would be announced in the “near future”.

With European nations scrambling to find alternatives to Russian oil and gas, LNG from North Field is expected to start coming on line in 2026.

Pouyanne said the company’s biggest deal with Qatar would help make up for the company’s withdrawal from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

“Some were asking the question what would TotalEnergies do in place of Russia, this is the answer,” Pouyanne told AFP.

“We have also announced projects in the United States, now we have added Qatar to the portfolio. We are number two in the world for natural gas and intend to stay there.”

– Hard bargain –

Without giving figures, Pouyanne indicated that Qatar had demanded a high price in the talks that started in 2019.

“Your team and yourself have been a very good defender of Qatar’s interests in this project,” he said in comments to the minister who is also the QE chief.

“Qatar Energy certainly drove a hard bargain. But for the biggest global LNG players like Shell and TotalEnergies, Qatar is too good to pass up. A stake in these LNG trains delivers scale, low-cost supply, great marketing opportunities, and a good partner,” said Ben Cahill, an energy security specialist at the Center for Security and International Studies in Washington.

Qatar is already one of the world’s top LNG producers, alongside the United States and Australia. 

QE 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 become 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 the Ukraine conflict has forced a change in attitude.

Qatar’s expansion “underlines its position as a leader in this industry”, said Bill Farren-Price, head of macro oil and gas research at the Enverus energy consultancy.

“With gas balances tight globally amid reduced Russian gas exports to Europe, LNG is a key and growing component in the energy transition and Qatar is determined to leverage its world-class North Field reserves to capture additional value through this deal.”

The Ukraine conflict has also injected a new urgency into efforts around the world to develop new sources.

Tanzania on Saturday signed a framework agreement with British and Norwegian energy giants Shell and Equinor towards implementing a $30-billion project to export its natural gas.

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TotalEnergies gains foothold in Qatar gas expansion

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Qatar's Energy Minister and CEO of QatarEnergy Saad Sherida al-Kaabi (R) and French energy group TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne attend a signing ceremony in Doha
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Qatar on Sunday named France’s TotalEnergies as its first foreign partner to develop the world’s largest natural gas field and eventually help ease Europe’s energy fears.

The French energy major will have a 6.25-percent share of the giant North Field East project that will help Qatar increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production by more than 60 percent by 2027, Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi told a news conference.

Kaabi said it was “a marriage more than an engagement” as the accord will last until 2054.

Other foreign firms will also have joint venture stakes with state-owned Qatar Energy (QE) but none will be bigger than TotalEnergies, said Kaabi, who did not reveal names.

Industry sources say ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips are all in line to take part in the giant $28-billion expansion, that Qatar had originally wanted to finance alone.

“We have finished the selection process and we have signed the agreements,” Kaabi said, adding that names would be announced in the “near future”.

With European nations scrambling to find alternatives to Russian oil and gas, LNG from North Field is expected to start coming on line in 2026.

TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said the company’s biggest deal with Qatar would help make up for the company’s withdrawal from Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

– Hard bargain –

Without giving figures, Pouyanne indicated that Qatar had demanded a high price in the talks that started in 2019.

“Your team and yourself have been a very good defender of Qatar’s interests in this project,” he said in comments to the minister who is also the QE chief.

“Qatar Energy certainly drove a hard bargain. But for the biggest global LNG players like Shell and TotalEnergies, Qatar is too good to pass up. A stake in these LNG trains delivers scale, low-cost supply, great marketing opportunities, and a good partner,” said Ben Cahill, an energy security specialist at the Center for Security and International Studies in Washington.

Qatar is already one of the world’s top LNG producers, alongside the United States and Australia. 

QE 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 become 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 for long rejected the long-term deals that Qatar seeks for its energy but the Ukraine conflict has forced a change in attitude.

Qatar’s expansion “underlines its position as a leader in this industry”, said Bill Farren-Price, head of macro oil and gas research at the Enverus energy consultancy.

“With gas balances tight globally amid reduced Russian gas exports to Europe, LNG is a key and growing component in the energy transition and Qatar is determined to leverage its world-class North Field reserves to capture additional value through this deal.

“Its partnership with TotalEnergies reinforces Doha’s political partnership with Western powers while giving it even more marketing options.”

The Ukraine conflict has also injected a new urgency into efforts around the world to develop new sources.

Tanzania on Saturday signed a framework agreement with British and Norwegian energy giants Shell and Equinor towards implementing a $30-billion project to export its natural gas.

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Global media giants battle for IPL cricket rights

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The winning bidders for the broadcast rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament are expected to pay up to $7.7 billion
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Global media giants including Disney and Sony and Asia’s richest man reportedly battled Sunday for the broadcast rights for the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, one of the world’s most-watched sporting events.

The winning bidders were expected to pay up to $7.7 billion in an online auction held by India’s cricket board on Sunday to show and stream the two-month contest for five seasons from 2023 to 2027, according to analysts.

This dwarfs the $2.55 billion shelled out by Star India, owned by US behemoth Disney, for the previous five-year deal which ended last month with the 15th edition of the tournament involving an expanded 10 franchises playing 74 matches.

Attracting some of cricket’s top stars from India and abroad with large salaries, the league has helped make Twenty20, a shorter and more exciting format of the sport, hugely popular, spawning copycat events worldwide.

This time the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is selling off four different packages including domestic and international television and online streaming rights as well as for special matches.

Besides Disney and Sony, bidders in the auction, which could stretch into Monday, include a consortium including Viacom as well as Reliance, owned by Asia’s wealthiest man Mukesh Ambani, reports said.

Fellow tycoon Jeff Bezos’s Amazon, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on rights for European soccer and American football and had earlier shown interest in the IPL, pulled out of the contest, reports said on Friday.

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