Radio RAI about Energy Forum
Report from V Energy Forum – Giancarlo Rossi, Radio Rai
From the 8th to 10th of November 2010 the fifth edition of the Energy Forum took place in Sopot, in the north of Poland. The meeting was mainly focused on the process of integration of the Central-Eastern countries in the European energy market as well as on the need for energy supplies guarantees and on the consequences of the 2009 energy crisis between Ukraine and Russia which led to the interruption of gas supply to some of the European countries, among them Italy.
According to Serge Poignant, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly of France, we, as European coming from different member states, have to do what we can in order to build up a European Community for Energy since we strongly need a common energy policy based on interconnections as well as on solidarity. We have to go on since we have ambitious plans to be realized within 2020, among them the reduction of about 20% of gas emission and the increase of energy production based on renewable energy resources.
According to the debates which took place during the Forum, the main question to focus on is: which are the perspectives for this winter?
Alexander Hudyma, Member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, tries to give an answer to this and to other matters concerning the energy debate in Europe and beyond. He doesn’t think that there will be any kind of problem for gas supply to Europe since Ukraine has negotiated a satisfactory discount but, at the same time, has accepted Russia to intervene and control the gas supply and transport system on its own territory. What is really missing is a European common policy. Some of the European countries try to find arrangement bilaterally with Russia, without a common voice.
An example of this unilateral approach, typical of some European countries, is the recent gas supply bilateral agreement signed by Poland and Russia, with the consequent controversies linked to it.
According to the Russian member of Duma, Yuri Shamkov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Industry of the Council of Federation, reminds Europe that Russia is part of Europe and wants to cooperate and dialogue with Europe in the field of energy supply. Europe, on the other side, should not need Africa or Central Asia since it already has Russia as the main and closer partner. Even if China is becoming a more and more valuable partner and purchaser, but Europe should not make the mistake of leaving Russia becoming closer to Beijing.
As for gas supply, Europe strongly believes in the Nabucco pipelines, which, from Baku and through Turkey, will deliver natural gas to Central Europe. Another complementary, or at least alternative, project is the White Stream pipeline which will deliver gas from Turkmenistan through Romania and the Black Sea, by-passing the Russian territory.
Giorgi Vashakmadze, Director Corporate Development of the White Stream Consortium, thinks that the White Stream project will take many advantages for Europe. It will reduce the possibility and danger of interruption of gas supply and it will may represent, alongside with Nabucco, an important tool for diversification of supply. Many countries from the Caucasus region are very interested in the cooperation with Europe, by leaving put some adverse neighbours like Russia and Turkey.
Mariusz Swora, President of the Energy Regulatory Office, thinks that we should create a strategy built up on European intra-cooperation and the modernization of energy plants, without of course forgetting about the using of renewable energies.
After the process of privatization has been started, many western European energy companies are investing in the Central-European region, like for example the Italian company ENEL which operates in Slovakia and possesses 60% of Slovenske Elektrarne.
According to Nicola Cotugno, Member of the Board & Power Director of Slovenske Elektrarne, is one of the biggest energy company operating in the region and is investing more and more in the modernization and construction of new energy plants, especially in the field of nuclear energy.
Michal White, partner of EnerCap Capital Partners, says that in the next years Europe is going to invest milliards of Euro to modernize the old energy plants build up during the Pact of Warsaw period. EnerCap Capital Partners has already invested about 450 million of Euro in the renewable energy sector, especially in Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
The US cannot be forgotten. John Lyman, Director of Program on Energy and Environment of the Atlantic Council of the U.S., mentioned that during the recent May meeting of the Atlantic Council, a lot has been said about the cooperation between the US and Europe, of course also in the field of energy. Europe and the US should not focus only on a common attitude towards Russia but also on possible initiatives towards other countries like India and China which needs energy. However, the discussion about the partnership with Russia must be kept alive since the government and Gazprom have to realize which are the real European needs and difficulties.
The European countries, want to develop a continental energy policy. For Emanuela Del Re, professor at La Sapienza University of Rome and geopolitical analyst for Limes, these kind of meetings like the Energy Forum of Sopot, are really important to realize how is important for the EU, for Central and Southern Europe to adopt a, unfortunately missing, common strategy towards energy. The European Union has clarified its priorities and its strategy in the recent document “ Energy 2020” by underlining the importance of reducing the energy dependence, especially when we look at the still dominant position of Russia with the South Stream and North Stream projects. It’s time to think about regional projects, about integration and consciousness of the interdependence issue.
What is also important, is to finally realize that a common strategy must be found in Europe. Friedbert Pflueger, Director European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) at the King's College, says that in the last 5 years, Europe has done a lot to find a common energy approach and strategy. We have a Commissioner for Energy who in February 2011 will present an official document about energy perspectives toward the 2050. However, it will still take a lot of time for Europe to speak with a single voice in the field of energy and to be on the same level of Russia, China, the US and India. In Europe we still face logistic obstacles due to the lack of interconnections between the member states which would allow to have a single energy market. Europe will also need a political will to diversify and to take political and consequent decisions. What would we choose, the Nabucco project or the South Stream one? Are we credible as for the idea of producing photovoltaic energy in the Sahara region and taking it to Europe, through Italy and France? Being present and active on different sides is really expensive and that is why Europe has to find its priorities and to put them in practise as Europe as a whole.