Using elements of the ‘small state’ theory, the article examines relations between Qatar’s foreign policy priorities and existing challenges to Doha’s presence at the natural gas markets caused by the impact of the US shale revolution, beginning of the global energy transition, and COVID 19 pandemic. These factors shifted the critical emphasis in the concept of the Persian Gulf energy security. The oversupply of gas that has been existing in the markets since 2019 and the emergence of new leaders in the list of leading LNG exporting countries in recent years significantly changed the situation in the markets in favor of consumers, who can now diversify their sources of supply. Under these circumstances, the sustainability of gas exports from the Gulf countries is no longer a factor of supply security, but an element of demand security: while LNG consumers have access to alternative suppliers, it is Qatar that has to fight for its place in the market, ensuring a stable demand for its main export product. This, in turn, forces Doha to re-adjust its relations with both the consumer countries and main rivals at the LNG market. Under the new circumstances, Qatar’s main challenge remains unchanged: it has to maintain sufficient financial revenues received from the LNG exports to ensure its more active and independent foreign policy that differs it from other so-called “small states”. Yet, to achieve this, Qatar is following the traditional strategy of small states: it hedges its risks through forming multilevel coalitions and alliances with both consumers and exporters of natural gas.
Qatar, small states, shale oil revolution, energy security, the Persian Gulf
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