I moderated this very lively & frank panel at the Ukraine Gas Investment Congress (UGIC) in Kyiv on 22 October 2021. [The high-level event participants are listed below].
I thoroughly enjoyed this lively debate, and learned a good deal. It’s an hour long; but I think it is well worth a watch, especially as the debate gets going.
* Torsten Wöllert, Minister Counsellor; Energy, EU Delegation to Ukraine
* Olga Bielkova , Director on Government & International Affairs Gas Transmission System Operator (GTSOU)
* Oleksiy Ryabchyn (Rye ab chen), Advisor to the Chairman of the Board, Naftogaz of Ukraine
* Sergiy Nahorniak, (Nach hor niak) MP and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Verkhovna (Ver kavna) Rada Committee on Energy and Housing and Communal Services
* Steve Freeman, Head of Energy Transition, Digital and Integration Schlumberger
* Dr. James Watson , Secretary General, Eurogas
* Moderator: Dr. Thomas O’Donnell, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin; and Energy and International Affairs Analyst
It was a respectful but clearly exasperating confrontation, a between contradictory imperatives pitting:
a) Ukraine’s necessity to boost its domestic natural gas production in the interests of its national security and independence, and the people’s social-economic needs,
b) The demands from Brussels and especially from highly developed Western-EU Member States insisting that Ukraine abandon all fossil fuels (including gas) ASAP,
Green-Deal-inspired insistence by Brussels for rapid gas-abandonment imposes the difficulty or outright banning of financing for increasing Ukraine’s domestic gas production. Many EU-zone financial institutions cannot any longer finance “upstream” projects (E&P: exploration and production), including the World Bank, whose representative pointed out earlier at the Congress that his institution is now outright banned from making such investments.
Nevertheless, no one on my panel, or throughout the Congress disagreed that, for the foreseeable future, investments in new upstream natural gas exploration and production are precisely what Ukraine urgently needs. The constant threats from Moscow, of Putin, his energy ministry and Gazprom to end transit of Russian gas to the EU via Ukraine would make the present “virtual reverse flow: method by which Ukraine obtains much of its natural gas, so vital for electricity generation but especially for citizens winter heating, will become impossible.
This is whey how to raise financing for domestic new gas E&P was precisely the urgent topic of this Congress organized by Naftogaz, the state natural gas company.
What is Ukraine to do? Is this fair?Continue reading