Russian energy utility Gazprom said on Friday it would not resume natural gas supplies to Germany via the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming a defective turbine.

Hannibal Hänschke | Reuters

The European Union’s rejection of Russian energy commodities after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will not last forever, Qatar’s energy minister said during an energy conference over the weekend.

“Europeans are saying today that there is no way we will go back to buying Russian gas,” Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, energy minister and head of state-owned gas company QatarEnergy, said at the Atlantic Council’s energy forum in Abu Dhabi.

“We are all blessed to be able to forget and forgive. And I think things get fixed over time…they learn from that situation and probably have a lot more variety [of energy intake].”

Europe has long been Russia’s largest buyer of most energy commodities, particularly natural gas. EU countries have slashed imports of Russian energy supplies and imposed sanctions in response to Moscow’s brutal all-out invasion of Ukraine.

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom’s gas exports to Switzerland and the EU fell by 55% in 2022, the company said earlier this month. The cut in imports has dramatically increased energy costs for Europe, prompting executives and oil and gas industry executives to scramble to find new sources of energy and secure alternative sources of supply.

“But Russian gas is going back to Europe, in my opinion,” al-Kaabi said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far claimed tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives, destroyed entire cities and exiled more than 8 million people as refugees. Russian missiles and drone strikes regularly hit and decimate homes, schools, hospitals and vital energy infrastructure, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power.

A residential building in Dnipro, Ukraine, destroyed after a Russian missile attack on January 15, 2023.

Global Pictures Ukraine | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

Europe has managed to avert a major crisis this winter thanks to mild weather and the sizeable gas stocks that have been amassed over the past year. Energy officials and analysts are warning of a more precarious situation in late 2023 as those supplies run low.

“Luckily they are [Europe] do not have very high gas needs due to the warmer weather,” al-Kaabi said. “The question is, what’s going to happen if they want to fill up their stocks in the coming year, and there’s not a lot of gas coming in the market until ’25, ’26, ’27… So I think it’s going to be for a while.” volatile situation will be.

Later during the conference, CNBC spoke to the CEO of Italian energy company Eni, Claudio Descalzi, who dismissed the Qatari minister’s comments.

“I think the war is still here and it’s not easy to forgive someone when you’re killing innocent people, women and children and bombing hospitals,” Descalzi told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “And that’s why I think we need to do more than forgive, we need to understand the meaning of life for our words. For our modern war, because that is [what is] happened there. So when we talk about energy security, we talk about the funding, how you allocate your money, how much into the gas, how much into the renewables, and you think people are killing near you or far from you… That is the priority, that’s the thing we need to solve.”

Ukraine will be a priority in 2023, says Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi

“Otherwise,” added the CEO, “there is a big elephant in the room. We hide something like that and when we hide something [it] always comes back bigger. If you forgive it means you don’t look at it, you don’t think we have to solve this kind of problem.”

Descalzi said the war in Ukraine and energy security are top priorities for him and his industry. Italy has drastically reduced its dependence on Russian gas, replacing it with energy sources from alternative producers like Algeria. On Sunday, Eni announced a new gas discovery in an offshore field in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Egypt.

“Honestly, energy security is a big issue…but I think Ukraine is the priority in 2023,” Descalzi said. This is from my point of view. It’s Russia. It’s the relationship with China.”

“I’m not a politician,” he added, “but I think you can’t manage and talk about money and talk about energy and industry – it’s clear that if you don’t look at that, a lot of people will suffer. But on the other hand you talk about freedom, democracy and people dying.”

"This year will be about the war" in Ukraine, says presidential adviser Amos Hochstein Russian gas will eventually return to Europe as nations ‘forgive and forget’, says Qatar’s energy minister