The Romanian International Gas Conference (RIGC)

The Romanian International Gas Conference (RIGC) is a flagship annual English-language event of the Energy Policy Group (EPG), an independent Romanian think-tank on energy and climate.

The conference takes stock of developments and trends for the natural sector in Romania and Southeast Europe.

RIGC 2020 will focus on the gas sector’s response to the European Green Deal and the implications of the post-Corona recovery on Romania and the region. The 2020 edition is conceived as an on-line series of events unfolding as a sequence of four webinars, with varying formats, from November 23 to 26.

The backdrop of RIGC 2020 is the European Green Deal, which sets the continent’s economy on a uniquely ambitious track to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In this context, the gas industry will have to bring to the fore a convincing long-term decarbonization strategy, around the production and use of biogas/ biomethane, power-to-gas, and carbon-free hydrogen, alongside the needed infrastructure – all “futureproof” and at optimized costs.

RIGC 2020 will also tackle major regional topics, such as the “last train” for investment in the development of the Black Sea deep-water gas fields, in a context of increasing headwinds for the global O&G offshore industry, and the new dynamics of gas flows in Southeast Europe, with geopolitical undertones prompted by the inauguration of TurkStream’s first leg, the upcoming Southern Gas Corridor, the hurdles seen by the BRUA project, the foreseeable opening of new LNG sources in Greece, and, probably, the beginning of the end for the Russian gas transit through Ukraine and Romania as well as rapidly falling costs for offshore wind. For the Romanian gas market, a host of regulatory hurdles following the liberalization of the supply segment will also be discussed.

The conference will convene a high-level line-up of EU, Romanian and regional officials, CEOs, industry and technology experts, and researchers from think-tanks and academia. The online attendance will be free of charge.

DAY 1: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2020 (10:00 – 12:00 EET)

The future of gas: opportunities for Central, East and Southeast Europe

European Green Deal brings many new opportunities for sustainable investment in the energy sector, yet it is likely to be challenging for Romania, where gas is the most important fuel and feedstock, and for Southeast Europe as a whole, which has been banking on a growing gas infrastructure and, to date, remains dependent on coal for its energy security.

The panel will address decarbonization paths that are cost effective, the financial instruments for investment in technology and energy infrastructure, the potential for sector integration, the challenges of securing a just transition for the carbon-intensive regions, the adequate protection of vulnerable consumers, and the overall issue of economic competitiveness.

Recent EU strategies – Hydrogen Strategy, Energy System Integration Strategy, and the Industrial Strategy – embedded in the European Green Deal are framing a bold vision of climate neutrality by 2050 and a broad policy approach to that sets both constraints and openings for the natural gas sector.

10:00 – 10:10 Conference opening and layout of RIGC 2020: Radu Dudău, EPG Director
10:10 – 10:30 MODERATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN

  • Virgil Popescu, Romanian Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, and
  • Kadri Simson, Energy Commissioner, European Commission
  • Moderator: Radu Dudău, EPG Director

10:30 – 11:40 PANEL DISCUSSION

  • Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyńsk, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Poland
  • Peter Kaderjak, State Secretary for Energy and Climate Policy, Hungary (tbc)
  • Michael Thomadakis, Regulatory Authority for Energy, Greece (tbc)
  • Zhecho Stankov, Deputy Minister of Energy, Energy Ministry, Bulgaria (tbc)
  • Andreas Goldthau, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam
  • Moderator: Victor Grigorescu, independent energy consultant, former Energy Minister

11:40 – 12:00 Q&As

DAY 2: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2020 (10:00 – 12:00 EET)

The new gas flows of Southeast Europe: Between geopolitics and a new market reality

A new dynamics of gas flows is starting to develop in SEE, with Russia redirecting a part of the gas transit through Ukraine via the recently inaugurated TurkStream. The upcoming second line, due to reach Hungary via Bulgaria and Serbia, opens the prospect for new markets in the Balkans, as well as competition among new pipeline projects, vying to tap into fresh gas flows.

The Southern Gas Corridor will also cross the region, and new LNG terminals are to be built in Greece and Croatia. A Vertical Corridor of gas is planned to connect Greece to Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and further on to the Baltic Sea. The US-backed Three Seas Initiative will play an important role as well.

A new regional competition for pipelines, interconnectors, transit fees, market volumes, and political influence is likely to start, under redoubled constraints of EU gas market rules and regulations, as well as new restrictions for access to financing gas infrastructure.

On the other hand, the upstream sector has been upended by an oversupplied European gas market, with depressed prices – an effect exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. Under these circumstances, projects such as Neptun Deep promptly require significantly improved regulatory terms. For the FIDs in the Black Sea fields, 2020 may well be a last train.

On the longer run, the projections of diminishing gas demand in Europe, the increasing electrification of final energy consumption and the promotion by the European Commission of a value chain (production, transport, and demand) for renewable hydrogen, possibly on the back of offshore wind creates both opportunities for synergy and sector integration, and complexity and uncertainty which must be address by means of smart regulations.

10:00 – 10:05 Opening by the moderator
10:05 – 10:40 MODERATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN

  • Julian Bowden, Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES), and
  • Christina Verchere, CEO, OMV Petrom
  • Moderator: Radu Dudău, EPG Director

10:40 – 10:50 Q&As
10:50 – 11:40 PANEL DISCUSSION

  • Julian Bowden, Senior Visiting Research Fellow, OIES
  • Adrian Volintiru, CEO, Romgaz, Romania
  • Ion Sterian, CEO, Transgaz, Romania
  • Jerzy Kwieciński, President of PGNIG Management Board, Poland
  • Moderator: Victor Grigorescu, independent energy consultant, former Energy Minister

11:40 – 12:00 Q&As

DAY 3: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2020 (10:00 – 12:00 EET)

Adding value to the natural gas value chain

In Romania, developing value-added demand segments for natural gas has become a strategic priority. What are the prospective uses of natural gas that can be developed economically and sustainably, at the same time? A fundamental prerequisite of that is a well-functioning natural gas market. What are the current hurdles and the workable solutions to it?

10:00 – 10:05 Opening by the moderator
10:05 – 10:40 MODERATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN

  • Catharina Sikow-Magny, Director for Internal Energy Market, DG Energy, European Commission, and
  • Niculae Havrileț, State Secretary, Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment
  • Moderator: Christian Egenhofer, CEPS

10:40 – 10:50 Q&As
10:50 – 11:40 PANEL DISCUSSION

  • Franck Neel, Board member, OMV Petrom
  • Eric Stab, CEO, Engie Romania
  • Anca Dragu, Deputy General Director, E.ON Romania
  • Mariusz Kawnik, Executive Director, Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP)
  • Moderator: Vasile Iuga, independent energy expert, Member of the EPG advisory board

11:40 – 12:00 Q&As

DAY 4: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2020 (10:00 – 12:40 EET)

The place of gas in a decarbonized economy

The pillars of today’s decarbonization vision for the gas industry are biogas and biomethane, power-to-X technologies relying on renewable power, and green hydrogen, produced with zero carbon emissions. The latter must also assume that carbon capture, storage and utilization (CCUS) capacities will adopt.

More urgent is the issue of tackling methane emissions across the gas industry’s entire value chain. The very credibility of the gas decarbonization strategy depends on it.

The panel brings together international experts to discuss the various approaches, challenges, dilemmas, successes and real prospects of decarbonizing the natural gas sector.

10:00 – 10:05 Opening by the moderator
10:05 – 10:40 MODERATED DIALOGUE BETWEEN

  • Christian Egenhofer, Head of the Energy and Climate Programme, CEPS and
  • Daan Peters, Guidehouse/Navigant: The optimal role for gas in a net-zero emissions energy system (tbc)
  • Moderator: Radu Dudău, EPG Director

10:40 – 10:50 Q&As
10:50 – 11:40 PANEL DISCUSSION

  • Alexandra Bocșe, State Counsellor, Head of the Climate and Sustainability Department, Presidential Administration
  • Alex Barnes, Visiting Research Fellows, OIES, EU Hydrogen Vision (tbc)
  • Lisa Fischer, E3G: Methane emissions: Tackling methane emissions in the gas industry
  • Mihnea Cătuți, CEPS & EPG: Decarbonising the natural gas industry: the long-term outlook
  • Moderator: Christian Egenhofer, CEPS

11:40 – 12:00 Q&As

CONFERENCE WRAP-UP Highlights, conclusions, the road ahead

12:00-12:30 CONCLUDING DISCUSSION

Christian Egenhofer, Victor Grigorescu, Radu Dudău

Moderator: Adrian Măniuțiu, Managing Partner EM360 Group

12:30-12:40 Q&As

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