BUDAPEST, Hungary, September 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
Today important issues related to providing energy security in Europe were discussed at a conference on Development and Use of Natural Gas in the Danube Region: Prospects and Opportunities hosted by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with support by the Danube Energy Initiative. The esteemed speakers acknowledged the growing need for international cooperation in the Danube region for the greater economic development of the Danube States.
A fruitful discussion took place at the conference attended by Aleksandar Antic, Minister of Energy of Serbia, Anton Pavlov, Deputy Minister of Economy and Energy of the Republic of Bulgaria as well as by Marton Balint Sipos, Head of International Department at the Hungarian Ministry of National Development and representatives of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria, representatives of municipal authorities, distinguished academics and leading businesses in the region.
The event featured a presentation by Alan Riley, Professor of Law, City Law School, City University, London, titled Other energy sources - What are the Options for the Region. Invited to speak by the The Danube Energy Initiative, his presentation was based on research into energy sources options and implications for the Danube states. Prof Riley suggested that a significant level of co-operation in the region will have a positive effect on alleviating existing concerns regarding security of gas supplies to the Danube states and provides the European Union decision makers with new evidence for rethinking its approach to delivering both climate change objectives and affordable energy to European population. Alan Riley suggested the possibility of a Big Natural Gas Deal for Europe which will ensure security of supply and lower gas prices for all states.
Jan Zaplatilek, Director, Gas and Liquid Fuels Department, Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, raised serious concerns about the potential for an interruption to gas supplies over the winter of 2014 / 2015, as the Ukraine crisis continues to impact relations between Europe and Russia. Mr Zaplatilek referred to the gas crisis of 2009 and proposed that working groups of European states was formed to monitor the delivery of gas through Ukrainian pipelines in an effort to ensure continued flow. This idea was endorsed by Mr Aleksander Antic, the Serbian Minister.
Mr Antic said, "The situation in the Ukraine is deeply worrying from an energy security perspective as we head into winter. We need to pre-empt any scenario where we face gas shortages. The proposal that consumer countries take a role in monitoring supplies coming through the Ukraine is an interesting one and we will take a serious look at how we can be of assistance."
Mr Zaplatilek elaborated on the idea, saying "During the gas crisis of 2009, European countries dependent on Russian gas formed a monitoring group to monitor the supply of gas. Given the current crisis, we need to see this initiative resurrected again, this time proactively. The Czech Republic relies on Ukrainian transport routes for 60 - 65 % of its gas, so we will be looking to partner with other European countries on this idea, before any potential crisis emerges." The idea appealed to other speakers, including Yavor Kuiumdjiev, a member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and a former deputy chairman of the Energy Commission of the Bulgarian Parliament.
The importance of international cooperation in the area of energy security was the sentiment echoed by all speakers.
Most speakers agreed that finding a solution to energy security in the Danube region and in Europe at large requires a permanent dialogue, greater mutual understanding and new ideas to be discussed. One point remains firm though, which is that Russia is the most important commercial energy partner for Europe and has always been a reliable provider of gas for many European countries, with Gazprom supplying over a quarter of the European market.
The conference in Budapest was an important milestone in realising the need for closer cooperation between political, social and business communities in achieving secure energy supply and in establishing Danube Energy Initiative as credible thought leader on energy policy in the Danube region to help coordinate between key countries on a broad range of energy policies.
Laszlo Parragh, hosting the conference, emphasised the importance of such events saying "The Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is immensely proud to have hosted this conference. Greater regional cooperation is the key to lowering prices for consumers and ensuring that we have a secure energy supply. It is vital that senior leaders from across the region continue to come together to discuss these issues. The Danube Energy Initiative can be used for a platform for the discussion of such issues."
Note to Editors:
As an independent organization, Natural Gas Europe provides information and analyses of natural gas matters from correspondents, contributors and media partners.
Natural Gas Europe's focus is on the role of natural gas in Europe, facilitating dialogue and understanding of important matters such as exploration, environment, regulation and energy security.
SOURCE Natural Gas Europe