France, UAE sign strategic deal to partner on energy projects
Meticulous discussions in July between French President Emmanuel Macron and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Paris have helped France secure promises of new energy supplies from the Middle East.
Following the brutal war in Ukraine, Western countries have been scrambling for energy deals to replace imports from sanctions-hit Russia. Western sanctions against the Russian energy sector mean several countries are vulnerable to shortfalls.
Moreover, if Russia chooses to further reduce its gas exports to Europe, shortages are inevitable, analysts warned last year.
The UAE has emerged as a key partner for the West in these tough times.
Last year in France, Sheikh Mohamed was on his first overseas state visit since taking office in May following the death of his brother. After lunch between the two leaders, an agreement was signed between UAE state oil company ADNOC and French energy giant Total Energies “for cooperation in the area of energy supplies”.
The Emirates is interested in supporting energy security worldwide in general and in France in particular, the UAE president told Macron, according to the Emirati state news agency WAM.
Before the high-profile trip, Sheikh Mohamed’s diplomatic advisor Anwar Gargash had stressed how the Middle Eastern country has sold oil to the far east for 40 years and was now looking to reorient its oil supplies toward Europe in the time of crisis.
The trip followed US President Joe Biden’s first Middle East tour since taking office in 2021, which included a visit to Saudi Arabia for energy-related discussions.
At a G7 Summit in Germany at the end of June, Macron and Biden were overheard discussing energy supplies from the Middle East. The French president said he had spoken to his UAE counterpart who had said he was at his “maximum” when it came to oil production, but that Saudi Arabia had some spare capacity.