DOHA (Reuters) – European Council President Charles Michel will hold talks with major gas producer Qatar on Europe’s energy crisis during a visit to Doha this week, a Qatari government official said on Sunday.

Michel is expected to visit Qatar on Tuesday, according to his official schedule.

European governments have been seeking alternatives to gas from main supplier Russia since Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine in late February, with Europe’s power costs surging as Russian flows dropped.

State-owned QatarEnergy, one of the world’s top natural gas exporters, has been negotiating with several European buyers for months, but no new deals have been announced.

“Charles Michel will meet several high-level officials to discuss and review regional and international issues including the Russia-Ukraine crisis, energy crisis, in addition to a number of other issues like Afghanistan, Iran, and Palestine-Israel,” the Qatari official told Reuters.

European leaders, already struggling to manage soaring gas prices, fear winter gas shortages as Russia announced plans to keep its major gas pipeline to Europe shut. Russia typically provides 40% of Europe’s natural gas.

Most current volumes of Qatari natural gas are locked into long-term contracts, mainly with buyers in Asia, which Qatar has said it will honour.

However QatarEnergy could begin supplying Germany with gas from the Golden Pass natural gas plant in Texas, in which it owns a majority stake, as early as 2024, Qatar’s deputy prime minister told a German newspaper in May.

Additionally, Qatar is seeking new customers for a major expansion of its gas output which will boost its exports by some 63% and is set to come online in early 2027.

(Reporting and writing by Andrew Mills; Editing by Jan Harvey)

European Council President Charles Michel attends a news conference during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium June 24, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron