Ukraine – Russia Crisis and the Gas of the Middle East

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Ukraine – Russia Crisis and the Gas of the Middle East

The war between Russia and Ukraine has escalated over the past decade. Both parties seek to safeguard their interests, but negotiations do not seem to be yielding positive fruits. Hence, Russia has conducted various military invasions, including taking over of the Crimean Peninsula and domination of self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk republics. The aggressive progressions have angered Ukraine that has initiated measures to defend its sovereignty. However, Putin is not relenting in his quest to take over Ukraine that he claims was formed illegally from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Currently, Russia is invading Ukraine and the international community plans to instill direct sanctions against Putin’s regime. One of the worst affected areas is the natural gas sector, which is one of Russia’s cornerstones. Ukraine has invaded some key pipelines that pass through its territories and Russia is compelled to restructure some of its channels that take natural gas to European nations that largely depend on its input. Russia is also adjusting the routes to deny Ukraine the transit fees it collects from Russian government for being the primary channel for Russia’s pipelines. Such reconstructions take time and have encountered significant constraints, especially with Germany halting the certification of a key project that would change the course of Russia’s pipelines. Another challenge facing the natural gas sector in Russia, which is a major producer of this fuel is the sanctions it is increasingly receiving from European and non-European states. Such sanctions threaten Russia’s ability to export its natural gas, a loophole that could affect the country’s revenue generation and disrupt its position as a leading exporter of this fuel. 

Consequently, this study examines whether the tribulations befalling the Russian natural gas sector give the Middle East an opportunity to increase its sales while enjoying high prices now that the demand for this commodity is high and the supply is low. The study also finds out whether the misunderstandings present any threats to the Middle East countries that appear in the top ten position in terms of natural gas production – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE. The most suitable research approach for this study is a systematic literature review that presents an opportunity to interact with various accessible literature that address the topic. The study, through a systematic stratified sampling technique settles on current articles that show how Middle East sees an opportunity to increase its natural gas production and sales following the crisis involving Russia and Ukraine. Conducting the systematic literature review while adhering to relevant structures reveal findings, which affirm that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE have a chance to expand their natural gas production and exportation at a time that Russia cannot reach out to international markets due to disruptions in its supply channels and increased sanctions.

Literature Review

The Build-up of the Crisis

The Russo-Ukrainian War is a continuing conflict between Russia that has brought along separatist forces to support its bid, and Ukraine. The tussle traces its origin in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine when clashes between erupted between rioters and security organs in Kyiv resulted in the removal of Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency and the overthrow of the government (Bebler 36). A series of riots called Euromaidan had emerged in Ukrainian capital in 2013 in reaction to an unexpected decision by Yanukovych not to ascent to deal with the European Union that would promote the country’s indulgence in trade within the region. Yanukovych opted to partner with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – an economic union comprising of post-Soviet countries, particularly Central and Western Asia and Eastern Europe (Bebler 38). The parliament of Ukraine had overpoweringly approved of concluding the pact with the EU. Russia has pressurized Ukraine to defy the agreement with the EU. The revolts persisted for various months and their magnitude broadened, with demands for Yanukovych’s resignation intensifying. Rioters countered what they perceived as extensive state corruption and violation of power (Bebler 38). Other factors that fueled the uprising include police brutality, violation of fundamental human rights, and impact of oligarchs. In addition, Ukrainian citizens were against the anti-protest laws that aggravated anger within citizens. Throughout the protests, a group barricaded Independence Square in the capital thus derailing most activities.

Clashes erupted at the beginning of 2014 involving protesters and special police force serving under the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Ukraine. The incident resulted in the death of at least 105 protesters, and more than a dozen police officers. Many other people were wounded in the incident. It is the killing of protestors along Hrushevsky Street in mid-January 2014 that sparked public uproar. The incident incited members of the public to storm government buildings throughout Ukraine (Bebler 43). The worst clashes happened on towards the end of February, which saw the most serious violence in the country since it achieved independence. A multitude of people moved towards parliament, steered by activities from diverse fields (Bebler 43). A significant number of those who advanced towards parliament was shot at by police officers and Special Forces. The pressure was piling and Yanukovych was forced to engage opposition members in parliament in forming a unity government that would function as relevant stakeholders organize an early election and champion constitutional reorganizations. The deal saw the pulling out of security forces from Kyiv but protesters continued with their relentless calls for change. Increased criticism against the president forced him to leave the capital and then sneaked out of the country (Bebler 44). It is on the same day that the parliament unanimously voted to eject Yanukovych from power.

Yanukovych claimed that the parliament’s decision was unlawful and possibly induced, and turned to Russia for intervention. Russia perceived the ousting of the president to be an unlawful, planned coup, and did not acknowledge the interim government. Widespread condemnation, both for and against the public uproar was witnessed all over Ukraine, particularly in the southern and eastern parts where the president garnered substantial votes during the general elections conducted in 2010 (Krishna). These condemnations intensified causing Russia to send its military to maintain peace. Russia progressed to take over the Crimea, which is a peninsula in the Eastern part of Europe. The entry of Russia into Ukraine also resulted in the formation of Luhansk and Donetsk that proclaimed self-independence, incidences that caused the Donbas War that is still ongoing since 2014 and involves Ukraine soldiers and Russia (Krishna). The escalating tensions heightened cyberwarfare and political unrest. Russian soldiers made steady strides towards the Ukrainian border and seized vital infrastructure, especially in Crimea, including the parliament. Russia hurriedly organized and conducted a referendum whose intention was to attach Crimea to Russia. Various groups in Ukraine emerged to support Russia’s intrusion, particularly in Donbas (Krishna). The Ukrainian came out to counter Russian proponents which turned into a war between the military and Russian supporters in Luhansk and Donetsk.

The tension between Russia and Ukraine escalated further moving towards mid-2014. The entry of Russian forces into Donetsk in August 2014 sparked more protests between pro-Russian Separatists and Ukrainian forces on the other side. Both parties proposed various initiatives to bring the war to an end but to no avail. The Minsk Protocol (Minsk I) in 2014 and Minsk II are some of the pacts signed by Russia and Ukraine, but some disagreements barred them from being entirely implemented. By 2019, the Ukrainian government declared that approximately 7% of the country as provisionally occupied territories, while the government in Russia indirectly recognized the entry of its forces in Ukraine. Russia continued to intensify its military presence around Ukrainian border in 2021 and at the start of 2022 (Krishna). NATO issued a statement blaming Russia for planning an attack, a claim that Russia countered. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has persistently termed NATO as a significant threat to his nation and restated that Ukraine should not be permitted to join the Alliance. Russia’s President also cites irredentist claims, commonly referred to as Russian irredentism, which is the determination by Russia to reclaim some part of the former USSR with the objective of unifying Russians outside its borders to be part of one state (Krishna). Russian irredentism has pushed Putin to question Ukraine’s existence, and claims that it was not the intention of the USSR to create Ukraine. Russia officially acknowledged the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk republics on 21 February 2022, and deployed its troops into both territories. After less than a week, Russia launched military operation against Ukraine. The attack on Ukraine has attracted global condemnation terming the act as inappropriate for a sovereign state. The international community has accused Russia for violating international law and infringing on Ukraine’s sovereignty (Krishna). Many countries have so far introduced economic sanctions against Russia, its people, and corporations, particularly after the 2022 attack.

Preview of Gas Production in Russia and the Middle East

Based on the International Energy Agency (IEA), natural gas production accounts for nearly one-third of the whole energy need and growth over the past ten years, much more than any other source of fuel, and offers about 23% of the globe’s energy requirements. Global generation has intensified significantly following the financial crisis in 2008 – hastened by the advancement in technology (Fawthrop). According to the 2020 report by one of the leading firms operating in the European market, about 4 tcm of natural gas were produced worldwide in 2019 (Fawthrop). Total resources for natural gas have been projected to be more 197 trillion cubic metres internationally, with particular states occupying the most momentous portions of the natural gas reserves. While the progression of clean energy continues to intensify as part of shifting to low-carbon fuels, natural gas is mostly expected to continue being an important source of fuel for many decades to come – serving as a link between fuels with high carbon content such as oil and coal and the broadening substitute renewable forms of energy such as solar energy and wind.

Russia is the second leading producer of gas globally after the U.S. Two global competitors – USA and Russia – are currently the leading producers of natural gas, controlling the supplies of resources that is utilized extensively in electricity production and heating. With a yearly production of about 920 billion cubic metres, the U.S. leads in the production of natural gas, and accounts for about 23% of the globe’s natural production (Fawthrop). Two states in the U.S., Pennsylvania and Texas are leading in terms of producing natural gas in the U.S., and mostly use some of the most effective natural gas production techniques to maintain their leadership position. In addition to being the leading producer of natural gas, the U.S. has made significant strides in oil production over the past decade making it one of the largest producer of this commodity worldwide (Fawthrop). American firms such as ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil are among the globe’s leading natural gas-producing firms together with other renowned companies such as the China National Petroleum in China, Saudi Aramco in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and BP in London. Second in the list of natural gas production is Russia that generated 678 billion cubic metres in 2019, which represents about 17.5% of the world’s total generation. Russia is also home to the globe’s extensive-known reserves of natural gas, estimated at about 38 trillion cubic metres, most of which are situated in the Siberia (Fawthrop). Gazprom that receives much support from the government is the leading producer of natural gas, and accounts for about 12.1% of the world’s production and at least 67.9% of domestic generation in the country (Fawthrop). Russia ships a substantial percentage of its natural gas to Asian nations, Turkey, and various European countries, with a considerable amount of these supplies moving via large systems of pipelines.

However, other countries such as Iran, Qatar, China, and Canada generate considerable amounts of natural gas. For instance, Iran’s production of slightly beyond 245 billion cubic metres in 2019 accounted for 6% of the globe’s natural gas. Whereas the production is way below those of leading producers (U.S. and Russia), Iran has immense capacity to broaden its production and supplies, because it has the second-largest reserves worldwide – measured at 32 trillion cubic metres (Fawthrop). Qatar yields slightly above 4.2% of the world’s natural gas volume with a production of above 177.1 billion cubic metres in 2019. Most production happens in the North Field although the country claims ownership of the gas-rich area – North Dome in the Persian Gulf that borders Iran. According to Worldometer Qatar generates about 6,001,926 million cubic feet (MMcf) of gas annually as of 2015, and consumes roughly 1,408,540 MMcf of this resource every year as of 2017. Qatar is in the 22nd position globally in its consumption of natural gas, representing at least 1.0% of the globe’s overall use of approximately 132,291,210 MMcf. Based on the 2017 data, Qatar uses at least 516,947 cubic feet of gas per capita yearly in a population of 2,725,737 nationals, or 1,417 cubic feet per capita every day (Worldometer). Qatar Petroleum that is run by the government oversees most activities related to natural gas production. China’s generation of 178 billion cubic metres of natural gas in 2019 puts it at the fifth position globally (Fawthrop). Production in this East Asian has been escalating spontaneously over the recent past in reaction to widening domestic needs. Sixth globally is Canada that produced approximately 173 billion cubic metres of this fuel in 2019, thus taking about 4.30% of the total globe’s portion (Fawthrop). A significant portion of natural gas in Canada comes from the province of Alberta, but British Colombia also generates a substantial amount.

The UAE and KSA in the Middle East also contribute significant shares of natural gas. The UAE generated about 3,178,738 million cubic feet of natural gas in 2015 placing it in the tenth position in terms of global production (Worldometer a). The country consumes about 2,631,328 million cubic feet of natural gas every year based on the 2017 data, and uses approximately 277,250 cubic feet of this resource per capita annually based on its 2017 population of about 9,497,204 citizens, or 759 cubic feet per capita each day (Worldometer a). The UAE imports about 20% of its natural gas, making imports amounting to 496,069 million cubic feet in 2015 (Worldometer a). The UAE exported about 250 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2018, mostly in the forms of liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) (EIA). The commencement of Dolphin Energy pipeline program has boosted production of natural gas in the UAE significantly (EIA). On the other hand, the Worldometer (b) informs that KSA generated 4,232,795 million cubic feet of natural gas in 2015 ranking ninth globally. The data by Worldometer (a) further informs that the UAE neither imports nor exports natural gas as of 2015. Production and consumption has increased progressively since 1990, and the Kingdom has a proven reserve of about 98.7% left compared to the 98.8% and 99.3% of the UAE and Qatar, respectively.

Based on the above data, it is apparent that Russia, Qatar, the UAE, and KSA largely depends on the revenues from natural gas to sustain its economy. The 8.89 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of piped and liquefied natural gas exported by Russia in 2021 contributed immensely towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) (EIA a). Not only does Russia depends on its natural gas, but also a noteworthy portion of the European Union where the twenty-seven countries affiliated to the political and economic formation depend on Russia for more than 37.9% of their imported natural gases (Anderson). This reliance will become significantly higher if countries in Europe execute their presently created energy policies. With aspirations to eradicate nuclear power in some countries in Europe, the objective of the EU is to lessen coal consumption thus minimising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the rapid use of domestic sources of natural gas, dependence on Russia is expected to escalate to 50 to 60% of all imports of this fuel within next twenty years if nations in this region do not adopt alternative energy policies (Anderson). Precisely, Russia generates about $ 55.5 billion from its exportations of natural gas to other nations globally (EIA a). Qatar, the UAE, and KSA attach the same value to natural gas. Both Qatar and the UAE export natural gas and channel some of the monies acquired from this sector to national building and other major projects. Being one of the largest generators of LNG, Qatar sells most of this fuel to countries in East Asia (Aljazeera). In 2019, it earned about $40 billion from its exportation of this product making it the leading exporter of LNG globally (OCE). On the other hand, the UAE exports its natural gas to Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and India. EIA (b) informs that depending on a seven-month aggregate of proceeds garnered through July 2019, returns from hydrocarbon exports are expected to account for more than $72.1 billion in 2019, about 25.1% of all revenues from exportation. Even though KSA neither imports nor exports its natural gas, the proceeds from domestic consumption impact considerably on economic development. Thus, any disruption in this sector would be a major blow for any of these four countries.

Impact of the Crisis on the Gas in Russia

Already the war between Russia and Ukraine is affecting trades on natural gas that have happened for various years between the two neighboring states. Ukraine serve as the leading transit route for the natural gas from Russia distributed to Europe. Ukraine in turn earns about $3 billion annually in transit fees, making it the nation with the most profitable export services. Following the creation of the North Stream pipeline by Russia, which passes through Ukraine, gas transit capacities have been increasingly depreciating. During the Russian conflict with Ukraine starting 2014, especially after the annexation of Crimea, serious tensions and misunderstandings have shifted to the gas sector. The emergence and spread of war in Donbas has prompted the calling off of an initiative to establish gas reserves in Ukraine, which had been scheduled to minimise Ukraine’s reliance on Russia’s natural gas. A terrorist attack attributed to a terrorist group in Ukraine bombed and damaged a pipeline in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine known as the West-Siberian Pipeline, which is one of the main channels Russia uses to distribute its natural gas to Ukraine and other parts of Europe although it is partially under the ownership and management of the Ukrainian government. Another section of the key infrastructure was blasted by the same group in the Poltava Oblast in June 2014 after the Russian government allegedly halted supply to Ukrainian consumers for not remitting payment. Arsen Avakov, who was serving as the Interior Minister in Ukraine at the time, confirmed that a bomb was responsible for the attack.

Russia planned to entirely quit gas supplies to Europe via Ukrainian territory after 2018. Gazprom has already largely minimised the volumes of natural gas it transports via Ukraine, and showed its goal of minimising the volume further by ways of transit diversification pipelines such as Nord Stream and TurkStream. Actually, the Russian government facilitated the change of course of the TurkStream that supplies gas from Russia to Turkey by altering the transit via Ukraine. In May 2021, Joe Biden, America’s President, lifted sanctions placed by Trump on the firm behind Nord Stream 2 that transports natural gas to Germany and its CEO. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, said he was not pleased by Biden’s pronouncement. The U.S. tried to urge Ukraine not to counter the pact with Germany over the transportation of natural gas. The U.S. again changed its mind in July 2021 and announced together with Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) that both nations would place sanctions against Russia if used Nord Stream as a weapon to fight the war. The move was aimed at preventing Ukraine and Poland from being excluded from Russian natural gas supplies. The deal further directs that Ukraine will receive a loan worth $50 million to boost its green technology and Germany will establish a billion dollar kitty to facilitate the country’s shift into green energy to mitigate the loss witnessed in transit charges. According to the deal, the deal for moving Russian gas via Ukraine will be extended until 2034 if Russian officials agree to be part of the deal. However, the deal is yet to be finalized, but the explanation shows that Russia’s natural gas sector is increasingly becoming under significant threat.

However, gas prices in Europe have continued to increase as more nations continue to tighten their sanctions on Russia over its attack on Ukraine. Most nations have reduced their dependence on Russia’s gas in the recent past. So far, Russia faces no sanctions on its trade of hydrocarbons, but it is highly likely Moscow could temporarily halt gas supplies to other parts of Europe as a show of its disapproval of the sanctions against it (Chestney). There are also concerns that the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine could affect major supply routes. So far, Germany which is the largest consumer of natural gas from Russia, has suspended the accreditation of the newly created Nord Stream 2 channel from Russia because of the ongoing conflict, and claims that it could get the fuel from the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Britain through alternative pipelines (Chestney). Those opposing the actions of Russia against Ukraine further argue that the South of Europe can effective access natural gas through the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline heading to Turkey and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline heading to Italy (Chestney). The U.S., which supplies LNG to other nations, has also come out boldly to assist Europe get alternative markets for this resource by asking local producers and generators in other nations to ramp up supplies. Ukraine itself had halted its purchase of Russian gas in 2015 and has instead acquired the resource from other EU countries, and has even tampered with the flow of Russian gas in certain major pipelines (Chestney). Stakeholders in the EU are already holding meetings in preparation for any deficiencies in supply. Some European nations are also making preparations to embrace alternative forms, including hydropower, nuclear, renewables, solar, and wind energy among other forms. Nonetheless, critics of the pull from Russia believe that it would be difficult to fit in Russia’s shoes and the gap would have a long-lasting impact (Chestney). One of the groups that feel it would be difficult to replace Russia is Qatar that has also refused to take sides in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Nonetheless, it is apparent from these descriptions that the Russian natural gas sector is increasingly becoming under threat and may not enjoy the honor it did before its attack on Ukraine.

More reviewers indicate that Russia’s natural gas sector is increasingly witnessing turbulence that could destabilize its influence in Europe and globally. McDonnell informs that on February 25, 2022, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. and various nations in Europe gave Russia at least 700 million USD for natural gas. Including exports from oil and its products, the revenue goes well beyond $ 1billion daily, making fossil fuel the most essential source of income for the President of Russia to funnel his attacks against Ukraine. In the days after the attack, those exports have become more profitable as gas and oil prices shoot up and supplies continue to flow without disruption. McDonnell writes that “Russia’s critics have few reliable options for fuel and will largely suffer intense price hikes if supplies from Russia are restrained.” McDonnell further informs that Western nations have not yet placed sanctions directly on Russia’s energy industry, but the White House press secretary, Jennifer Rene Psaki, said at the beginning of March that the issue on the table. But even without formal and direct sanctions, a widening number of business partners and consumers in Russia are turning their back and willingly ejecting fossil fuels from Russia out of the market. McDonnell asserts that the present realistic scenario is that a significant amount of Russian natural gas will no longer be substantial to the market, a situation that intrigues a supply deficit for the time of the conflict. According to Louise Dickson who serves at Norwegian independent energy research and intelligence firm – Rystad Energy, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it one of the most repelled suppliers in the global gas sector. The description further identifies that Russia’s capacity to sell its natural gas is under considerable threat.

In February 2022, various multinational gas and oil firms, encompassing Exxon, Equinor, Shell, and BP pulled out of multi-billion deals with Russian firms operating the oil and gas sector. Various companies in Europe and in the U.S. have declared that they would not purchase Russian gas and related products. While none of these adjustments have had a significant effect on the volume of oil emerging from Russia, exports to Europe and the U.S. could vanish very fast if the calls for sanctions become a reality. McDonnell believes that the Middle East is likely to gain from the increased threats against Russia’s capacity to sell its natural gas.


Research Question

To identify whether the Russian-Ukraine crisis presents the Middle East, and particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE with an opportunity to increase its sales and at a higher price, as well as to identify whether the conflict affects natural gas production and consumption, including sales in the identified Middle East countries.

Research Design

The most suitable approach for responding to the research question is a systematic literature review, which entails retrieving information from secondary sources in a systematic manner. The approach requires the researcher to identify, choose, and critically assess scholarly works and other forms of research with the goal of answering a clearly created research question (Okoli and Schabram 882). The primary objective of a systematic literature review is to identify and use as many relevant written work or research on a particular matter or research question as possible and to use suitable and explicit techniques to find out what can substantially be said on the basis of the literature. The selected techniques should not be explicit, but should instead be systematic with the goal of generating dependable and diverse outcomes (Okoli and Schabram 884). Nonetheless, effective use of the systematic approach requires a researcher to adhere to particular phases that would lead towards the targeted outcomes. The first step is to formulate a research question, which in this scenario seeks to find out if the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis benefits the Middle East gas sector and whether it presents any threats. The next phase is to conduct a search of the relevant literature while appraising their content to ensure they are relevant for the study. The next step is to extract data while conducting a thorough analysis and synthesis of the content (Okoli and Schabram 884). The final phase is to report the results in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. The systematic literature review method is the most preferable research method for this study because the approach provides a succinct and inclusive overview of accessible proof on a particular subject. Besides, the research design makes it possible to find research gaps in current awareness of a particular subject or field. Nonetheless, the research acknowledges that the research design is associated with high risk of bias and may be time-consuming because the researcher must spend a considerable time examining each selected work to understand their content (Okoli and Schabram 892). However, the systematic literature review used in this case still serves a valuable purpose in working towards responding to the research question.

The study retrieves data from secondary sources that specifically addresses the Ukraine-Russia crisis and how it impacts on the gas sector in the Middle East. Other inclusion criteria, include the relevance of the article’s content to the global natural gas sector in relation to the ongoing war. However, the exclusion criteria in this case is articles that do not address the issue between Russia and Ukraine and how it influences the production and exportation of natural gas from the Middle East. All the selected works for this study are current because the matter under investigation in this assignment is a current affair. However, engaging articles produced in the past years may not give a true reflection of this as they are now in the ground. Various factors make secondary sources a suitable avenue for retrieving data for this assignment. One of the reasons why the study chooses to refer to secondary sources is that they are easily accessible and the researcher may not have to undergo a lot of cost to acquire the needed materials (Okoli and Schabram 894). Moreover, effective interaction with the selected secondary sources presents an opportunity to witness increased clarification of the research question or issue under investigation. Furthermore, secondary sources are preferable in this instance because they offer a variety of expert views and insights. However, the many benefits associated with using secondary sources does not imply that the selected approach does not have its limitations. One of the constraints associated with secondary sources is that the researcher may encounter considerable constraints accessing information that suit specific desires (Okoli and Schabram 894). The other reason when using secondary sources is that it could require more time to go over the selected works while trying to identify particular patterns or trends. Furthermore, it is likely to encounter biasness when retrieving information from secondary sources. Nonetheless, the approach is still effective for completing this research.

Using the systematic stratified sampling method presents a suitable chance to settle on the most appropriate sources for this study. The approach is generally applicable when dealing with a mixed population, or where the larger population shows significant variations in their quality and form (Okoli and Schabram 896). The key requirement in this case is to group sources according to various features to form a group known as strata (Okoli and Schabram 896). It is from this group that contains articles with similar features that the researcher will select the final works to include in the study. The systematic stratified sampling as opposed to simple random sampling, offers an opportunity to select the most suitable works for this study, thus avoid confusion that could affect the expected results.

The appropriate data analysis method for this study is descriptive data analysis. Descriptive data analysis is a kind of analysing data that allows a researcher to describe, show, or brief data in a constructive manner such that it is possible to identify trends or patterns that help to respond to the research question or issue under investigation. Conducting a descriptive data analysis is one of the essential phases for performing statistical data analysis. In other words, the descriptive data analysis technique is utilised to search and briefly present data with the intention of identifying meaning or patterns (Okoli and Schabram 898). The approach is more convenient when seeking to offer key information about a particular set of data and when identifying the connection between variables. However, effective use of this approach requires researchers to follow a particular structure that would help to achieve the targeted results. The initial phase is to state the objectives clearly to guide the data analysis process. The next phase is to gather the needed data while presenting them in a systematic manner. The third step is to clean or refine the data while ensuring that only the relevant materials or content is involved in the analysis process (Okoli and Schabram 898). The fourth step is where the actual data analysis takes place. The researcher must be very careful at this point to ensure that nothing tampers with the process to get appropriate results. The fifth phase would be to interpret the outcomes while finding out whether there is any relationship with the research question or hypothesis. The interpretation of the results requires some level of skills to avoid making misleading inferences. The final step in using the descriptive data analysis technique is to communicate the outcomes in the most appropriate manner (Okoli and Schabram 898). The adopted approach for relaying the results should not cause further confusion and should not discourage the audience from going through every detail either for being unclear or unnecessarily long. Otherwise, conducting the descriptive data analysis serves a significant purpose in this study.

Findings and Discussion

Wintour agree that the sanctions against Russia and the increased destruction and alteration of pipelines disrupts Russia’s capability to supply its natural gas, thus giving Qatar a suitable opportunity to venture into the European market. Wintour reveals how the leader of Qatar met America’s president to deliberate on how Qatar could get involved by providing LNG to Europe for the time being while the war continues to disturb Russia’s capability to ship its gas to other nations, especially in Europe that largely depend on Russia. According to the article by Wintour, Qatar is seeking to supply natural gas to Europe by shipping surplus gas stored in various facilities in Asia. Qatar also hopes to enter into the European market on an extensive scale as its production of natural gas persistently increase, but calls for an end to the anti-trust inquiries in contradiction of European Commission. A reliable source according to Wintour revealed that talks have been ongoing between Qatar and Europeans, and an announcement would be made soon on the way forward. British stakeholders who are participating in different engagements with Qatar, are confident Doha will be of significance assistance to Europe, even though Germany that gets more than half of its gas from Russia does not have an import station for liquefied gas (Wintour). The article further reveals that whereas most of the natural gas in Qatar is sold to Asian markets in accordance with already outlined contracts some of which last as much as two decades but the country has the capability to make adjustment that would allow it to make supplies to Europe even though the supply may not match that of Russia (Wintour). Qatar is likely to play the part considerably well taking into account that the country is the leading worldwide supplier of LNG together with other nations such as Australia that has also promised to intervene in the Europe’s case.

Consequently, the study encourages European nations that largely depend on Russian gas not to fret considering that nations such as Qatar would give alternative options. The Centre for American progress feels that it is appropriate to consider possible alternatives early enough to avoid a standstill where some nations lack natural gas because of the ongoing tussle (Wintour). The Centre for American progress maintains that in a war over Ukraine, Russia would definitely be committed to restrain supplies to the rest of Europe during winter. Moreover, the war in Ukraine could disrupt the movement of gas into Europe if pipelines are affected or supplies are halted. Hence, the Centre for American progress recommends that Europe should thus embrace precautions to avert a gas shortage in future (Wintour). Therefore, Qatar should seize this opportunity to widen its sales of natural gas at a time when Russia cannot access the market as effectively as possible because of the ongoing war. Based on this description, it is apparent that the Ukraine-Russia crisis presents the Middle East with a chance to make more sales of its natural gas with Ukraine already making significant strides towards venturing into the European market (Wintour). After all, Qatar had made similar exportations to Europe in 2010 and had witnessed little challenge during the anti-trust investigations initiated in 2018 by the European Commission with the motive of inquiring how Qatar was entering into long-term business deals with operators in the global market (Wintour). Thus, the stalemate between Russia and Ukraine presents a suitable chance for Qatar to extend its natural gas supplies to Europe, an opportunity that the country in the Middle East can use to expand its sales.  

However, to benefit from the gas that Qatar would bring into Europe some European nations would be compelled to make relevant transformations. A good example is Germany that would have to create additional terminals to access the gas from Qatar. Wintour informs that Germany primarily gets itsliquefied natural gas through various chief terminals in three European nations but also depend on auxiliary stations (Wintour). Recent attempts by Germany to establish a terminal at Brunsbuttel have borne little fruits, despite the support it received from America (Wintour). Germany must work on such changes as fast as possible because according to Markus Krebber who serves as the CEO of RWE Aktiengesellschaft, a multinational electricity firm headquartered in Germany, the country may not be able to cope in the next few weeks if Russia chooses to restrict supplies to Europe (Wintour). Nonetheless, it is essential to acknowledge that Russia would largely lose the foreign income it gets if it decides to cut supplies.

Other findings create a similar impression that with the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Europeans are now considering alternatives to counter their many years of dependence on Russia for natural gas. According to Parra and McHugh, the war has exemplified Europe’s susceptibility after many years of insignificant progress in finalising an energy project established in 2015 with the goal of providing inexpensive electricity and gas to enter across European territories while increasing supplies and realizing climate objectives. Parra and McHugh contend that as renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar are progressively embraced and fossils that cause environmental harm such as coal are eradicated, Europeans still need natural gas, and their dependence on Russia to get this vital resource. That came into an unanticipated halt after the gas stream into Europe plunged abruptly and charges increased partially because of Russia’s restraints, upsetting homes and organizations that have to grapple with growing costs. Parra and McHugh argue that with gas reserves increasingly reducing and concerns that increased warfare could disrupt flow of gas from Russia, the EU is paying considerable attention to sourcing its LNG by shipping from external markets such as Algeria, the U.S., Qatar and other places until normal supplies resume. Some support the move to seek alternatives while other believe that the option is equally costly and would take a toll on Europe (Parra and McHugh). For instance, Kadri Simson who is the Energy Commissioner for EU has expressed fears that whereas some nations may have to make significant alterations to access natural gas from new sources, the adjustment is inevitable to avoid an energy crisis that would affect Europe. Moreover, the Energy Commissioner for EU convened a meeting at the beginning of March to discuss the significance of coming up with contingency plans that would help to avert the worst-case scenario (Parra and McHugh). The EU is already urging its members to consider alternatives to overcome the dependency Europe has on Russia. The leader of the European Commission said at meeting in Germany that the EU should explore various options to identify other sources of the energy (Parra and McHugh). The leader accused Gazprom, which is the leading gas firm in Russia of intentionally trying to hold back and supply as little fuel as possible while demand and prices continue to go high.  

However, the analysis of the various sources reveals that the tussle between Russia and Ukraine could not be as beneficial to UAE and KSA as it is to Qatar that has already made inroads into the European market. Mills informs that whereas Qatar is making significant strides towards venturing into the European market, the UAE and KSA have increasingly defied Western calls for increased efforts to supply the European market with natural gas. These two nations, however, have increased their prices significantly and are enjoying the effects of the war on this perspective. The relationship between the UAE and KSA with the U.S. has not been effective in the recent past with the two countries blaming America for interfering with security matters in the Gulf nations (Mills). The poor relationship with the Western nations creates worries as to whether UAE and Saudi Arabia will enjoy more benefits in terms of supplying natural gas to Europe other than only taking advantage of the increasing prices.

Moving Forward

European nations learn fundamental lessons from the Russia – Ukraine war that may help to make preparations on how to secure their fuel security. The nations affected by the disruption in supplies by Russia see the significance of creating internal structures and making adjustments that would help to avoid reliance on Russia (Parra and McHugh). Each of the affected countries should take time to understand what they can do to ensure constant supply of the precious commodity to avoid stalemates that could disrupt operations in households and commercially. In the meantime European nations can consider alternative markets such as the U.S. and Qatar that have the capacity to generate large volumes of natural gas (Parra and McHugh). However, the change would come at a price because various European nation will have to make considerable adjustments to their gas infrastructure to receive gas from alternative sources. Other than Germany that is largely considering making substantial transformations, Poland has also made significant strides towards restructuring key infrastructure to allow it access and supply the valuable commodity. For instance, Poland has in the recent past been creating pipelines with bordering nations, encompassing the Baltic Pipe, which is anticipated to move gas across various European nations as well as to other regions from January next year (Parra and McHugh). Poland has also invested immensely in the building of a liquefied natural gas station that traverses the Baltic Sea where it touches Germany. The terminal has since 2015 expressively assisted to minimise imports of gas from Russia through the Yamal tube by a substantial amount, to less than 58% of its entire imports of natural gas. The Polish government is committed to furnish the Yamal deal when it comes to a halt in the coming year, expecting more LNG from gas-producing nations such as Qatar, the U.S., and Australia (Parra and McHugh). However, European nations that fail to make the necessary changes may encounter considerable constraints in their attempt to adjust to the new scenario where natural gas has become scarce and governments and relevant stakeholders must find alternatives to avoid acute shortage.

Qatar should make preparations that would enable it to increase its supplies to Europe while the UAE and KSA should find ways of taking advantage of this opportunity to increase the sales of their vast natural gas resources. The government may have to make adjustments on the amount of gas it supplies to East Asia, which serves as the leading market for Qatar’s natural gas exports to ensure that it makes constant supplies to Europe that is proving to be a new market for gas from the Middle East. The country should select a team of experts to draft a plan on how the country would venture into the European market while avoiding disruptions in other markets where the supplies are equally essential. Similarly, the UAE and KSA should find ways to resolve the current stalemate as fast as possible to allow them benefit from the market opportunities created in Europe by the Russia-Ukraine conflict (Mills). These two countries in the Middle East should send their representatives to find out whether it is possible to avail natural gas to the European nations where the demand for this commodity increases every day. However, KSA may still not enjoy the opportunities created by the war if it holds by its decision of not exporting any natural gas. Whereas the government knows best why it has settled for the decision, it is apparent that the Kingdom misses significantly on the revenues it would get from exporting the product to the Middle East where the demand is very high (Mills). Therefore, KSA may have to make some policy changes at a time that Qatar is already meeting operators in Europe to discuss the way forward.

More fundamentally, it is imperative to find long-lasting solutions to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine to avert further problems that could affect the energy sector even further as well as disrupt peace in the affected countries as well as global peace. The concerned parties in this case should remember that persisting with military intervention may not be the suitable alternative because this could only foster more opposition. Consequently, it is essential to consider alternative approaches to settling the wrangle to avoid the natural gas shortage that is now taking a global effect. A suitable approach to dealing with the situation would be to embrace diplomatic approaches to settling the misunderstanding with the concerned parties having to consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that are more peaceful in their approach to mitigating a conflict. For instance, Ukraine and Russia should create time to engage in negotiations that would help to find a long-lasting answer to the current stalemate. The negotiations will allow all sides to give their views regarding the contentious issues, and will present an opportunity to suggest suitable options for dealing with the case. Alternative ways for settling the dispute would be through arbitration and mediation, which entails engaging neutral parties into the case to come up with effective responses to the disturbing problems. Such approaches would create room to share ideas on mutual basis and to come up with effective remedies to the current stalemate that has affected the natural gas sector as well as other areas that play fundamental roles in boosting the economies of concerned nations. Otherwise, failure to find ways to restore peace could worsen the situation and create more energy crisis.


The paper falls into various sections that helps to show how the Russia-Ukraine Crisis impacts on the gas sector in the Middle East, and particularly Qatar, UAE, and KSA. Then literature review section provides valuable that helps to understand how the Russia-Ukraine crisis started and how it affects both countries. Russia has escalated the presence of its military forces in Ukrainian borders and has occupied the two self-declared republic (Luhansk and Donetsk) from where it receives overwhelming support. Russia seems to be fueling its tension with Ukraine, a feud that traces its origin in 2014 when Ukrainians opposed the decision to join Russia and EAEU, without considering the potential impact of its actions on its production, use, and sell of natural gas. Qatar is the second largest producer of natural gas and largely depends on the revenues from this sector to boost its GDP. However, its indulgence in the war has attracted worldwide condemnation from states that look forward to place stricter sanctions against Russia. Europeans nations that largely depend on the natural gas from Russia are already considering alternatives to fill the deficit should Russia face more sanctions or if it chooses to cut its supplies to other nations is a retaliatory action against the sanctions it faces. The issue generates debates from various groups with some arguing nations in the EU do not have to rely on Russia while others contend that omitting Russia or its withdrawal from supplying natural gas will leave a huge gap that would be difficult to fill. However, the groups that think Russia has violated international law and Ukraine’s autonomy are committed to place tougher sanctions against the second-largest producer of natural gas. Various evaluators think that the disturbance Russia faces in its supply of natural gas gives producers in the Middle East a suitable opportunity to increase their sales while enjoying higher prices.

The methodology section describes a research that helps to respond to the research question – whether the war between Russia and Ukraine favor Qatar, UAE, and KSA in terms of selling natural gas and if the crisis presents particular constraints. The suitable research design in this case is a systematic literature review, which entails retrieving information from secondary sources and examining their content in an attempt to respond to the research question. The approach is suitable for this research because it allows the researcher to gain a clear and comprehensive perception of obtainable evidence on a subject under investigation. The sources that are applicable in this study are those that address how the crisis between Russia and Ukraine impacts oil production and sell in the Middle East. Moreover, sources that explain how the war affects the sector globally and has some relations with production in the Middle East also form part of the study. Articles that address how the crisis impacts on the gas sectors in UAE, Qatar, and KSA are more suitable for this study that uses the descriptive data analysis method to analyse collected data and uses a systematic stratified sampling to identify the relevant sources. The findings affirm that as the supply for natural gas continues to shrink due to the constraints Russia faces in exporting this fuel, the Middle East, especially Qatar, UAE, and KSA that have vast reserves have an opportunity increase their sales while taking advantage of high prices. The systematic literature review indicates that Qatar has already made significant strides towards exploring the European market but this is yet to happen with the UAE and KSA that are still holding supplies due to individual reasons.

The study shows the need to embrace measures that would help to create a better future for the countries involved in this matter. The conflicting countries should consider embracing alternative ways for promoting peaceful coexistence, including using ADR. European nations on the other hand should start making adjustments that would enable them to overcome their reliance on Russia for natural gas. This entails creating new resources that make it possible to receive natural gas from other countries and considering alternative forms of energy. Countries in the Middle East, especially Qatar that has already showed interest in supplying natural gas to Europe should make considerable adjustments to its current infrastructure and plans to ensure the flow to Europe happens without obstruction. More fundamentally, the UAE and KSA should find ways to address the challenges that deter them from exporting natural has to Europe now that the demand is high to benefit from this opportunity.

Works Cited

Aljazeera. “US in Talks with Qatar Over Supplying LNG to EU: Reports.” Aljazeera, January 22, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Anderson, Richard. “Europe’s Dependence on Russian Natural Gas: Perspectives and Recommendations for a Long-term Strategy.” Marshall Center, September 2008, 19, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Bebler, Anton. “Crimea and the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict.” Romanian Journal of European Affairs, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, pp. 35-54. 

Chestney, Nina. “Factbox: What are Europe’s Options in Case of Russian Gas Disruption?” Reuters, February 28, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

EIA. “Overview.” EIA, May 6, 2020,,Exports,to%20OPEC%20(Figure%204). Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

EIA a. “Europe is a Key Destination for Russia’s Energy Exports.” EIA, March 14, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

EIA b. “United Arabs Emirates.” EIA, May 6, 2020, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Fawthrop, Andrew. “Profiling the Top Six Natural Gas Producing Countries in the World. NS Energy, 26 April 2021, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Krishna, Abhay. “View: Root Cause of Ukraine-Russia Conflict.” Economic Times, March 4, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

McDonnell, Tim. “As Russian oil turns toxic, Saudi Arabia could see a windfall.” Quartz, March 2, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Mills, Andrew. Ukraine Conflict Opens Diplomatic and Energy Opportunities for Qatar.” Reuters, March 20, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

OCE. “Natural Gas, Liquefied in Qatar.” OCE, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Okoli, Chitu and Kira Schabram. “A Guide to Conducting a Systematic Literature Review of Information Systems Research.” SSRN Electronic Journal, vol. 37, no. 43, 2015, pp. 879-910.

Parra, Aritz and David McHugh. “Ukraine crisis jolts Europe to push for secure energy supply. AP News, February 22, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Wintour, Patrick. “Qatar in talks to supply gas to Europe if Russia cuts supplies.” The Guardian, January 26, 2022, Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Worldometer. “Qatar Natural Gas.”  Worldometer, 2022,,ranking%206th%20in%20the%20world. Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Worldometer a. “United Arab Emirates Natural Gas.” Worldometer, 2022,,ranking%2010th%20in%20the%20world. Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

Worldometer b. “Saudi Arabia Natural Gas.” Worldometer, 2022,,ranking%209th%20in%20the%20world. Accessed 20 Mar. 2022.

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