This is the transcript of the message delivered by Mihnea Constantinescu, ambassador with special assignments for energy security, during Energy Strategy Summit, held on June 4 at the Cantacuzino Palace in Bușteni.
Thank you energynomics.ro for the initiative to organize a debate with participation so broad and significant on Romania’s national energy strategy.
I take advantage of the fact that Răzvan Nicolescu (former Minister of Energy – e.n) is not here and I’ll talk some more and freely, because otherwise would have talked about achievements of energy strategy in 2014. I hope that at the end of 2015 Minister Gerea (The curent Minister of Energy – e.n.) will present his achievements about the national energy strategy. Of course there was some progress in 2014 on this subject and I think that valuations that the team of specialists who worked on this strategy are particularly important and provide a substantial discussion basis for establishing strategic priorities for developing this sector.
The document presented in December 2014, finally, should also be the starting point of some of our discussions if we look only at the SWOT analysis that they also have managed to achieve in all the effort that has been made over this year. On the other hand I think it is incorrect to say that Romania currently has no national energy strategy, because there is the document developed in 2007 for 2007-2020, although it is obvious that since then many things have happened regarding Romania’s European status, but also in terms of European energy policy platform. It is time to move on from this rhetoric stage, often petty politics to address the issue of energy strategy, to a stage of effective, coherent and accountable actions.
For example, I recently participated in Brussels together with numerous representatives of the energy business community to an event dedicated to the Romanian energy sector, organized by the Romanian Center of Energy and I congratulate the leadership of the center for this initiative. It is regrettable, however, that such an opportunity at European level to promote opportunities in this sector was marked by the profound dilemma “do we have or not a national energy strategy”. It is unfortunate, however, that our institutional arguments are too slow and often unconvincing in relation to the extraordinary pace of development of opportunities in the sector. On the other hand, I think it is very good that there is such pressure, absolutely justified from civil society, the business community to have this year a visionary strategy equal to Romania’s energy potential. There are some important lessons we have already learned from the experience of successive attempts to update the national strategy.
First, Romania as EU member state has no more time to waste on bureaucratic and confusing procedures and should have a strategic document, clear, well-structured and assumed by national political consensus. Secondly, also as a member of the European Union, Romania must assume by its Energy Strategy the objectives and targets set by the new framework of European policies, namely 20-20-20 strategy, European Union energy security strategy, Energy-Environment 2030 framework and, not least, all 5 pillars of the future Energy Union. Thirdly, the strategy should be linked to economic development plans, namely the plans for reindustrialization of different sectors. And Minister Gerea was right when he made publicly such a requirement. Fourth, we cannot continue with the damaging method of formulating the national strategy from a closed office or through outsourcing, especially on energy.
Objectives, plans and priorities of energy business community must be fair and reflected broadly, integrated and correlated in this strategic document. We must appreciate the new framework promoted by the Government for consultation the business community in this area, and to give just a few examples: coalition for Romania’s development, the working group at the level of prime minister for the electricity sector, systematic consultation with employers’ associations in oil and gas, ROPEPCA and ARCOMN, but also with other associations such as ARPEE or ACUE. This may become a new working method, which we need to develop, including the substantiation of strategic directions. Fifth, given the new European and global context, the global energy strategy should define and reflect in the highest degree Romania’s energy security objectives as objectives of national security.
In relation with this goal I will not cease to repeat the intrinsic dependence of the 3 strategic pillars: energy governance, energy security and national security. Energy governance should be reflected in predictability, transparency in decision-making, corporate rules, integrity and professionalism in decision making, honest consultation with investmentors and business community. Such attributes of energy governance will give more confidence to investors that we need, will better protect this strategic sector from the vulnerability, from challenges and contamination with obscure interests, contrary to the national interest of Romania, will place really the interest of Romanian citizens in the center of policies in the field, will attract Romanian professionals from around the country and from abroad to find a strategic national project of the utmost importance for the future of Romania.
The fact is that we need a national consensus, to recognize the role of each of the three pillars I was talking in the grounding of any policy and any energy project. Romania has sufficient assets regionally since it has a moderate dependence on a single source of supply of imported energy, has a reasonable and flexible energy mix, and has the potential of being an energy transit country.
If we are to consult just the demands of the Energy Union, Romania should be prepared not only for the security of gas supply, but also to integrate into the internal market on the basis of laws and European regulations, must make great efforts to achieve energy efficiency targets, decarbonisation of energy generation and economic development. On Monday, at the Energy Council in Luxembourg, ministers will have an orientation debate on energy security strategy implementation and design of the strategic directions of ownership at national and European level of Energy Union pillars. Well, from our point of view, strengthening the European energy security must remain the top priority of the European Union.
We appreciated and contributed to the European Commission’s initiative to create a framework for cooperation in Central and South East Europe on the gas supply, the so-called GESEC, and we advocate for a transparent process of identifying strategic projects of regional and Romanian interest. We believe that this European framework is the best format for discussing and evaluating any new project, especially for regional gas projects, as established by the European Commission in Brussels, and not outside EU capitals. To avoid any speculation, I recall that priority projects at regional level for Romania are the ones that are already in the selection process for possible EU funding, as projects of common interest, including the components of the national territory of the Regional Transport corridor Bulgaria – Romania – Hungary – Austria, linking future gas resources in the Black Sea to the National Transportation System and subsequently to the regional corridor, building energy interconnection with the Republic of Moldova, coupling the National Transport System to regional transit systems.
Of course, throughout the day there will be many proposals and initiatives which probably hope to be synthesized into a coherent form for a contribution to the future project of the strategy and future projects of strategic directions, but what I would like to present in discussions today are some priorities that we have identified in recent years, both in interaction with various professional associations, various associations of businessmen and experts who have worked so far to deliver the strategy:
- Highlighting the potential of onshore oil and gas;
- Harnessing the potential of Black Sea energy resources;
- Developing the capacity and reliability of the National Gas Transportation System to make it able to engage in the most important EU regional projects;
- The increase of the strategic gas storage capacity;
- Oil infrastructure development, including with regional relevance;
- Clarify the role that coal will play further in the national energy mix;
- Building capacity in hydroelectric energy production, taking into account the need for balancing the system;
- Clarify and design future contributions if nuclear sector in the energy mix, including the aspect of fuel supply from domestic sources, and I must stress that we are in the front line of support for the nuclear sector in Europe;
- Develop clearer policies on energy efficiency where the potential is insufficiently highlighted;
- Stimulate consumption of electricity, defining the future of the national energy sector from renewable sources;
- Increased technological profile of Romania in the energy sector based on intelligent networks, technology infusion of IT & C technology.
I believe that the regional role that Romania has assumed for itself in cybersecurity, for example, must be reflected in the ability to propose and develop IT solutions, management and security of critical infrastructures in energy produced in Romania. I conclude by saying that in support of a proper and efficient management of the energy sector we need at this stage a working method that is renewed, based on strategic vision and which includes a realistic X-ray of scope and objectives, empowerment of entities involved in drafting legislation and sectoral strategies and an enhanced dialogue with the business community to develop functional strategies.
I think there is no more time to waste with solving the dilemma if in this moment Romania has or does not have an energy strategy, and the invitation we ask on this occasion is to try to get out of logical contemplation, of saga mindset. The Energy Strategy must be a reality by the end of this year. Therefore, let’s take advantage of this opportunity that the organizers gave us, to talk honestly and openly about what is to be done and think whether we need a change in the method of work.