French President Emmanuel Macron will host the ruler of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates in Paris next week, according to several people familiar with the matter, as European countries seek alternatives to Russian energy amid the war in Ukraine.
Mohammed bin Zayed, commonly known as MBZ, will be in France’s capital on July 18, according to one of the people. The French presidency declined to comment.
France has been talking to the UAE about greater supplies of oil and diesel since the European Union vowed to cut its dependence on Russia, its largest source of energy imports. The EU has imposed six packages of sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
Supply from the UAE could at least be a temporary alternative to Russian oil and diesel, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told local media in June.
Last month, Macron was caught on camera telling US President Joe Biden at the G-7 summit that MBZ informed him Abu Dhabi is at “maximum” oil production and Saudi Arabia can only increase “a little more.”
The UAE’s Energy Minister Suhail al Mazrouei clarified that MBZ was referring to quota limits agreed with fellow OPEC members, but uncertainty persists.
The trip to Paris is set to come days after Biden travels to Saudi Arabia for the first time as president, partly to see if Persian Gulf oil producers will increase output and help bring down crude prices, which have soared 35% this year to more than $100 a barrel. That’s led to higher inflation and contributed to a cost-of-living crisis in many countries.
The UAE sits on about 6% of proven reserves of crude oil and has some of the world’s largest wealth funds. It’s a leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Macron and MBZ will also discuss potential UAE investments into France and security ties between the two countries, which are close allies. The UAE bought 80 Rafale fighter jets from France as part of a 17 billion-euro deal signed during Macron’s visit to Dubai in December.
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