SLAVTCHO NEYKOV: THE INVESTMENTS ARE THE KEY PRIORITY
by Dragan Nedeljkovic, Energoportal, Belgrade
The meeting of the Joint Working Group on Gas Infrastructure Investment and Regulation of the Energy Community was held in Belgrade on April 3, 2008. The discussions during the event focused on further steps on implementation of the Energy Community Treaty on the ground of a report on the gas market development within the Community and information presented by the Contracting Parties, as well as on priority projects in the gas sector.
It provided the opportunity for an interview with Mr. Slavtcho Neykov, Director of the Energy Community Secretariat.
The Energy Community Secretariat has prepared information on gas related projects, as well as recent Report on the implementation of the Treaty and on the respective degree of harmonization of the legislative framework by the Contracting Parties to the Energy Community, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and UNMIK. Are you satisfied with the results achieved up to now?
Today in Belgrade, among the other topics on the agenda, the Working Group was ;informed about recent developments in all Contracting Parties in the area of gas and also considered the major gas related projects in the Energy Community. As you are aware, investments in the energy sector are a key priority for the whole region. The Secretariat – based on the information provided by the Contracting Parties - prepared two lists of key projects. The first one includes projects in advance stage, which have already secured financing, whereas the latter refers to the projects in the initial stage, ideas and initiatives. Hereby, I provide you with both lists for the gas sector, and in our website you may find similar information for the electricity sector. From this perspective, the difference between these two sectors is huge: for the electricity sector there are approximately 120 projects notified, whereas for the gas sector there are around 30 projects. For us the investments are the key priority, and the special emphasis is put on projects of regional significance. Of course, there are some national projects which can be considered of regional importance, and to illustrate this in the area of gas I could refer e.g. to gas storage facilities and in the electricity sector –e.g. to the new nuclear power plant Belene in Bulgaria.
When it comes to the activities of the Energy Community, I would like to underline that the Contracting Parties started the implementation process from the point of huge differences among them; however, substantial progress has been achieved by all. The gas sector is a good example in this relation. Starting with the fact that in some Contracting Parties the gas market almost does not exist or was emerging in others, the Energy Community promoted both institutional and legislative developments. This process of harmonization on the ground of the EU acquis is swiftly advancing; still it takes time and huge effort. However, I would like to point out that there is common aspiration and political will, present and demonstrated in all Contracting Parties. This lead to concrete results – thus, e.g. all of them are very advanced in the legislative and institutional development, and it is surprising in what speed this has been done. This explicitly includes the regulatory authorities, which play key role for the development of the gas energy market - with exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rest have established and functioning regulatory bodies responsible also for the gas sector.
I would like to point out that in these activities the Energy Community focuses mainly on the regional perspective of cooperation. In the current charts, indicating the development you can easily note the steps forward, including the progress concerning the regional cooperation. However, in parallel it should be noted that the Contracting Parties certainly share common goals with the EU in relation to development of their energy sectors, but the challenges are considerably different – this is very relevant e.g. for the social aspects of the reforms.
Thus, it is clear that strong progress can be achieved on the ground of harmonization and coordination of the region itself, which at later stage will lead to integration with the EU energy markets as well.
Recently there have been some new developments in the gas sector in regards to the construction of the Southern stream between Russia and Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. How will that influence the Energy Community, and the possibility of connecting to the European gas networks?
Neykov: Although it is difficult to answer, I would like to point out that for import currently in practical terms all Contracting Parties of the Energy Community are dependent on one source for the gas supply which is not positive for the market. Thus, any projects of diversification e.g. the NABUCCO project will contribute to changing this and improve the current situation.
Excuse me, but isn’t the NABUCCO project cancelled?
No. I do not know details, but the concrete development of the South stream project also has unclarified issues for the moment as we heard from our Serbian colleagues here in Belgrade.
Further in this aspect, in the area of gas I would like to mention explicitly the Energy Community Ring project. One must bear in mind that at this stage the region is dominated by small players and markets, but needs huge investments; thus, this project is another example about the necessity of common efforts.