2017 - Central & Eastern European Gas Conference
The importance of and growing interest in the Central & Eastern European gas sector was made abundantly clear in February by the success of the inaugural Central & Eastern European (CEE) Gas Conference at the Sheraton, Zagreb. Securing and developing the energy future of this part of the world requires buy-in at the highest level from national, regional, EU and global players. The CEE Gas Conference made great strides in bringing these critical figures to the table.
150 Government ministers and energy executives descended on the conference for a packed opening plenary session, underlining the need for an exclusive gas forum in this complex part of the world.
Delegates were warmly welcomed by representatives of the City of Zagreb and from INA, Croatia’s state-owned power producer before they settled in for the keynote speeches.
Slaven Dobrovic, the Croatian Minister of Energy, began with insight into the Croatia’s energy plan and a focus on the Krk Island LNG import terminal. As the US Ambassador to Croatia looked on, Bill Silkworth, Director for Europe, Western Hemisphere & Africa at the US Department of State, commented on the role that US LNG exports have to play in the region and the creation of a North/South Gas corridor. Finally, Janez Kopac, Head of the Energy Community Secretariat discussed the need for collaboration amongst Central & Eastern Europe’s nations if a secure and sophisticated gas market is ever going to be realised.
The rest of day one was made up of presentations and panel discussions from regional and external experts covering the key steps of gas market development including: market integration, regulation & liberalisation, infrastructure, LNG imports and a particularly lively debate on the future of CEE piped gas & supply diversification.
That evening, delegates retired to the bar to continue their discussions over a few drinks and were able to sample some light snacks that showed off Croatian cuisine.
Participants returned for day two to hear Argus Media put the CEE market into a global context before regional energy leaders took to the stage for the Executive Energy Leadership panel. Marcel Kramer of the Delta Institute chaired this high-level discussion featuring top executives from Lietuvos Energija, Engie, AS Eesti Gaas, INA and the Hungarian Department of Energy.
Most of the rest of the day covered the important subject of infrastructure, including security & access to encourage interconnectivity & trade in the region. The final session of the day covered the critical issue of finance and investment. Funding for infrastructure critical to the region is a serious question and this panel looked at how institutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development are vital in providing the funding to continue the expansion of the CEE energy markets.
All in all, it was an excellent debut for the conference and the feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive, with many figures instantly declaring their intentions to support the event again in 2018.
The flurry of announcements that followed the conference, not least the approval of a EUR 102 million grant for the construction of the Krk island LNG import terminal, demonstrates that this region is very much in the ascendancy.