28/07/2017, by Susan Kurdli
As top diplomats from various countries flock to the Gulf in an attempt to solve the GCC rift, major energy companies continue to vie for competitive projects in the oil and gas fields in the region. The latest of these projects is the development of the South Pars/North Field, the world’s largest natural gas field, which is owned by both Iran and Qatar. This field plays a central yet often underrated role in the development of foreign and national policies in both Qatar and Iran. In light of this, any attempt for isolation or pressure on either country to alter select policies is futile insofar as it disregards this fact.
As several experts have previously noted, the tension arose briefly after the Riyadh Summit, when US President Donald Trump assured Saudi Arabia of his commitment to the region in the face of the “Iranian threat”. The US’ hope of forging an impenetrable GCC shield against Iran fails to appreciate the centrality of the energy question and exhibits a narrow sightedness based on the pursuit of self-interest. It is, therefore, predestined to fail.
Similarly, the ensuing Saudi-led blockade against Qatar is destined to eventually subside and give way to normalised relations in spite of the current tension. As a sign, perhaps, that energy trumps political antagonism, it is noteworthy that shortly after the rift, Qatar announced it would not disrupt liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which runs through the Dolphin pipeline.
The UAE receives about two billion cubic feet on a daily basis from Qatar. Egypt, similarly, will continue receiving Qatari LNG shipments which it secured till the end of 2017. Qatar’s LNG ships continue to make their way unhindered to Asia through the Hormuz Strait and to Europe through the Suez Canal.