France in talks with UAE to substitute Russian gas following fresh EU sanctions
France is in talks with the United Arab Emirates to replace Russian oil and gas purchases, French Economy and Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday.
"There are discussions with the United Arab Emirates. We have to find an alternative to Russian oil," Le Maire told Europe 1 radio.
French purchases of Russian oil will stop in the coming months, following a sixth round of sanctions against Russia issued by the European Union on June 6, which includes a progressive embargo on oil. Most EU countries must stop importing seaborne crude within the next six months, and oil derivatives within the coming eight months.
Deliveries of Russian crude via the Druzhba pipeline, which runs through Poland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are exempt from the embargo for an indefinite time. Still, Poland and Germany said they would stop using the pipeline by the end of the year, reducing Russian oil imports into the EU by 90% by 2023.
France is not the only country eyeing the Emirates for its oil supply. In mid-March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, asking them to increase their production amid rising fuel prices worldwide.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the world's biggest oil exporters and both with ties to Moscow, largely avoided taking a position against Russia since it invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
The need to decrease Europe's energy dependency could boost efforts to phase out fossil fuels, in line with states' commitments to decrease carbon emissions. In addition to the UAE talks, France is planning to "accelerate" and increase investments in the renewable energy sector, Le Maire said.