The governments of France and the United Arab Emirates signed an energy cooperation agreement this week to ensure the supply of oil and natural gas to the Gulf country as Europe prepares for a possible gas cut from Russia. .
A statement from the French government says the collaboration aims to establish joint investment projects between France and other countries in the hydrogen, renewable energy and nuclear sectors. “The agreement we are signing with the United Arab Emirates has a double strategic importance: it allows us to respond in the short term to the pressing challenges of energy security, while preparing for a decarbonized future”, declared the French Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire. in a report.
The deal comes as UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan travels to Paris on his first state visit abroad since taking office in May. Other trade and energy deals are expected to be signed during the visit, including an agreement between French energy giant TotalEnergies and Abu Dhabi’s national oil company to secure energy supplies, according to the Ministry of Energy. Economy.
As the meeting takes place, the war in Ukraine enters its sixth month and Europe is in the midst of a sweltering heat wave. Amid soaring energy prices, inflation and a crisis in the cost of living, European countries are preparing for a Russian gas shutdown in retaliation for sanctions imposed during the war. Russia has cut off or reduced natural gas to a dozen European countries so far; this gas is necessary for the operation of industry, the production of electricity and the heating of houses in winter. Nord Stream 1, a major gas pipeline, was also closed for scheduled maintenance last week, and there are fears the channel between Russia and Germany could restart.
French President Emmanuel Macron said last week that his government would prepare a “sobriety plan” to save energy and that France continues to seek diversification of gas sources. He specifically called for a faster transition to offshore wind farms and greater European cross-border energy cooperation as the nation prepares for the “scenario where we have to do without all Russian gas”.
Energy exports from the UAE to France are mainly refined petroleum products. The United States Energy Information Agency estimates that the United Arab Emirates holds the seventh largest proven reserves of natural gas in the world, at more than 215 trillion cubic feet. The country is one of the largest oil producers in the world, with most of its oil and gas wealth concentrated in Abu Dhabi.
Human rights groups have called on Macron to take advantage of the UAE’s poor human rights record in their meetings. A statement from Human Rights Watch said that “for years, the UAE has systematically crushed dissent… Activists, lawyers, teachers, students and people seen as critics are arrested, prosecuted and detained, women and LGBT people face discrimination.