Energy 9 March, 2023 9:30 am   
COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Poland’s diplomatic offensive in the Middle East

Mateusz-Morawiecki-i-Mohamed-bin-Salman-1536×1024 Mateusz Morawiecki and Mohamed bin Salman. Picture by the Prime Minister's Office.

During a visit to Saudi Arabia, Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki talked about increasing  oil supplies from outside Russia. The trip is part of Poland’s diplomatic offensive in the Middle East with the participation of Poland’s President. Morawiecki stressed the importance of Arabia for the stability of the oil market. Meanwhile, new figures show that Arabs import diesel from Russia, which is under an EU embargo.

“This is part of our diplomatic offensive and presence in an extremely visible part of the world,” said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, referring to the talks with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with the participation of President Andrzej Duda.

The president of Poland visited Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In the UAE he talked about strengthening energy cooperation, leading to the signing of a cooperation agreement between Poland’s Climate Minister and UAE’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

“We know well how difficult the process was to cut off the Russian oil umbilical cord,” said Prime Minister Morawiecki. “We want to strengthen cooperation with the Gulf states, with Saudi Arabia. This is an area of great potential for Poland” he added.

“Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met in Riyadh, capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. The politicians discussed current bilateral relations and further cooperation in the supply of oil to Poland in order to ensure energy security for our country,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also presented the great potential that Poland has in terms of investment in future technologies and the export potential of Polish agriculture. During the talks, international and regional issues were also raised. The visit to Riyadh was the first by a Polish Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia in 11 years,” the press release continued.

“Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke to the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about the scope of supply of resources in order to strengthen our cooperation. The talks highlighted, among other things, the importance of the stability of global oil markets and the reliability of supply for Poland,” the press release continued. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is interested in investing in the implementation of state-of-the-art technologies in Poland. Together, we want to develop favorable investment conditions for both parties and undertake initiatives for sustainable development, clean energy and future technologies,” the Chancellery wrote.

“Saudi Arabia is a large producer that can stabilize the price of oil and be a supplier that is of great importance for countries like Poland, that have to import oil. Poland is diversifying its oil supplies from all over the world, and Arabia is becoming increasingly important in this context,” said Mateusz Morawiecki. He spoke about the alliance of Arabia and the United States, which can bring stability in Central and Eastern Europe. Both the PM and the President attempted to convince the Middle Eastern countries to look at the war in Ukraine from a Polish perspective. Kyiv has received PLN 2 billion in financial aid from SA. “The Russian-Ukrainian problems look different from the Polish perspective and from the Arab perspective, but our perspective is understood by the countries of the region,” Morawiecki explained.

In turn, President Andrzej Duda spoke in Qatar about supporting the least developed countries in the food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Today’s realities require special protection of the state in the non-military dimension, including when it comes to food security,” said Andrzej Duda during a panel. He pointed out that the war in Ukraine was one of the reasons why it was difficult to ensure the supply of grains, drinking water, fresh food products and the smooth functioning of supply chains between Europe and Africa and the Middle East. He said Poland was taking action to, among others, support the entrepreneurship of the least developed countries, increase their energy efficiency, improve water infrastructure and protect biodiversity. “We are ready to expand this comprehensive support package with our experience and capabilities in the agriculture and food sector,” he added.

“I hope that this visit will result in many contracts that will be concluded here in the future by Polish companies, but above all – an increased Polish presence here in the technology sector, renewable energy sources, and IT, which is developing here in an extremely dynamic way. It is one of the most developed and most powerful regions in the world at the moment,” he said in Abu Dhabi. “In turn, we hope that investment funds from the United Arab Emirates will come to us. That the companies that deal with renewable energy sources and are developing technologically here will also be present on our market. We know perfectly well that we need a lot of renewable energy due to our climate policy and developing our energy mix, so we would certainly benefit greatly from this cooperation. We hope that these companies will enter our market dynamically,” he said.

Morawiecki and Salman also discussed the export of agricultural products from Poland to Saudi Arabia. President Andrzej Duda talked about supporting Qatar’s agriculture and cooperating with the UAE on this issue. The Prime Minister of Poland revealed that Poland and Saudi Arabia wanted to cooperate on the export of Polish arms products through Riyadh. In turn, involvement in the construction of future cities like Saudi Neom is supposed to be an opportunity for Polish IT specialists and developers.

Next to Russia, Saudi Arabia is a top producer in OPEC+. The oil agreement aims to stabilize oil prices, which involves keeping them at a sufficiently high level to guarantee revenue to countries whose budgets heavily rely on its sale. In the past, however, the Saudis competed for the market with the Russians by resorting to a price war. It is unclear whether Poland is seeking to change their approach, but in February the Saudis began importing diesel fuel from Russia, which was placed under an EU embargo last month. According to Refinitiv Eikon, Riyadh received at least 190,000 tons of diesel fuel from Moscow in February 2023. This raw material can be re-exported to other parts of the world.