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DOHA: France’s TotalEnergies on Saturday signed a major investment in Qatar’s natural gas production expansion, which comes as Europe’s searches for new energy sources as an alternative to Russia.

Qatar Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi announced the deal with TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne.

TotalEnergies will have 9.3 percent of the North Field South project, Kaabi said, for which 25 percent will be reserved for foreign energy firms.

“Qatar Energy announces the selection of TotalEnergies as a partner for the development of the North Field South,” Qatar’s official news agency QNA said. “New partners will be announced at a later stage.”

Kaabi said that the French giant would also help to finance the extraction of gas from North Field South. He said the French firm would take on an “enhanced strategic” role in Qatar’s gas expansion.

In June, TotalEnergies agreed a $2 billion deal to take part in the giant North Field East project, that will help Qatar increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production by more than 60 percent by 2027.

With European nations scrambling to find alternatives to Russian oil and gas, LNG from North Field is expected to start coming on line in 2026.

Qatar is already one of the world’s top LNG producers, alongside the United States and Australia.

Pakistan LNG Ltd gets single bid from QatarEnergy at $39.80/mmbtu for July cargo

State-owned Qatar Energy estimates that North Field holds about 10 percent of the world’s known natural gas reserves.

The reserves extend under the sea into Iranian territory, where Tehran’s efforts to exploit its South Pars gas field have been hindered by international sanctions.

South Korea, Japan and China have become the main markets for Qatar’s LNG but since an energy crisis hit Europe last year, the Gulf state has helped Britain with extra supplies and also announced a cooperation deal with Germany.

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