ABU DHABI: European countries will eventually resume higher imports of Russian gas, Qatar's energy minister and gas company CEO predicted on Saturday, warning that market volatility could last for years. Russian gas exports to Europe plunged after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine but Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, head of QatarEnergy, said the situation could change in the future.

"The Europeans today are saying there's no way we're going back" to Russian gas, he told the Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. "We're all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time... they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity.

"But Russian gas is going back, in my view, to Europe." Gas exports by Russian energy giant Gazprom to the European Union and Switzerland fell by 55 percent last year, the company said this month. Europe was previously Gazprom's main export market but supplies were drastically reduced because of sanctions following the Ukraine invasion last February.

A mild winter has spared European countries from having to plunder their gas stockpiles, but Kaabi warned it would be harder this year to replenish back-up supplies. "Luckily they haven't had a very high demand for gas due to the warmer weather. The issue is what's going to happen when they want to replenish their storages this coming year, and there isn't much gas coming into the market until '25, '26, '27," he said. "So I think it's going to be a volatile situation for some time." - AFP