The United Arab Emirates and France on Monday signed key strategic energy cooperation deals that aim to ensure oil and gas supplies from the Middle East nation and to increase co-operation on hydrogen, renewables and nuclear projects.
The agreements come at a time when Europe is preparing for the possibility of a complete cut-off of Russian gas supplies, in retaliation for sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
They also coincide with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Paris visit, his first international trip since becoming UAE president.
The first agreement involves a comprehensive strategic energy partnership between the two nations, while the second is a strategic partnership between state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and French giant TotalEnergies.
Adnoc and TotalEnergies aim “to jointly evaluate new growth opportunities” in developing oil and gas projects in the UAE, with stated aims including the supply of diesel from the UAE to France and, more widely, securing sustainable energy.
The pair will also target prospects for commercial carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects in the UAE, TotalEnergies said.
Adnoc chief executive Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber said the agreement offers a potential to accelerate growth and to unlock opportunities across the energy value chain.
The nations are seeking to identify joint investment projects in France, the UAE or elsewhere in the hydrogen, renewables and nuclear energy sectors, the French government said.
"In the current uncertain energy context, this agreement will pave the way for a stable long-term framework for co-operation, opening the way for new industrial contracts," it noted.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the agreement with the UAE “is of double strategic importance” as it allows France to “address the pressing challenges of energy security in the short term while preparing for a decarbonised future”.
However, the ministry did not provide further details of the energy deals.
French officials recently said that the nation is eager to secure diesel from the UAE.
TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne recently told the French parliament that the company is “discussing an agreement to have access to diesel and fuel from the Emirates this winter".
He said the company’s efforts are part of the French initiative to secure sufficient energy to make up for the loss of Russian supplies.
TotalEnergies is a key partner in Abu Dhabi, and also has stakes in the strategic Ruwais Diyab unconventional concession in the emirate.