Already a decade and a half have passed since Gazprom and Dutch Gasunie, together with the University of Groningen, founded the Energy Delta Institute (EDI) in 2002. It was done so as a result of the conclusion of a 20-year natural gas supply contract to Gasunie (grandfathered to Gasterra). Their main aim was to create an institute that could train and educate energy professionals, while preparing them for future challenges. Shell and Gasterra joined EDI in a later stage. Fifteen years later around 8.000 of professionals have received training, and many lasting personal and business relations have been forged. This provided plenty of good reason to celebrate the occasion in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s ‘window to Europe’.
International Supervisory Board
On April 11th 2017 the founding partners of the Energy Delta Institute convened in Saint-Petersburg to attend the annual International Supervisory Board (ISB) meeting. EDI’s ISB meetings are an annual event, hosted on a rotating basis either by one of the Dutch founding partners in the Netherlands or by Gazprom in Russia. At the meeting, the annual results of the previous year (2016) were presented to the members of the board, while actions for the current year (2017) were discussed.
This year its members were represented by Sergey Khomyakov (Deputy Chairman of Gazprom’s Management Committee), Han Fennema (CEO at Gasunie), Annie Krist (CEO at Gasterra), Ruud de Jongh (Vice President Joint Venture Governance at Shell) and Peter Verhoef (Professor at University of Groningen).
International Partner Meeting
The ISB coincided with EDI’s annual International Partner Meeting (IPM) and saw quite an impressive turnout of partners attending the event. In addition to the founding partners, such partners like Enágas, van Oord, Boskalis, PwC, Nyenrode Business University, IMEMO, Skolkovo Business School, University of Zagreb and the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies (OIES) joined as well. This year, however, had a special Asian dimension with representatives from the Malaysian Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS and the Indian SP JAIN Institute of Management & Research attending.
Roundtable and panel discussions
The IPM-programme encompassed an interactive roundtable discussion on sustainability, gas pricing and investments in energy, covering questions such as whether Europe would be able to establish an economy that would be able to rely entirely on renewables and hydrogen by 2050. The discussion on determinant factors for the pricing of gas focused on whether gas would succeed in taking up the role of becoming a backup for renewables and thus also on technological breakthroughs in energy storage. Nevertheless, most of the participants seemed to agree that natural gas should be an affordable and competitive fuel in order for it to remain part of the energy mix.
Following on the roundtable discussion, an executive education panel discussed the challenges education is facing in the energy sector, such as subjects and skills that are gaining in priority and how joint international programmes can contribute to this. What was certainly interesting to observe, was that all members of the panel, regardless of the geographical location, were drawing similar conclusions. In addition to the need to understand rapid changes in IT and the impact of digitalisation, competencies, such as interdisciplinary skills, leadership, people management and interpersonal skills are rising on the priority list of companies. They increasingly consider such qualities as crucial for successful functioning of their staff and thus their companies, against the background of the energy transition and globalisation.
The afternoon focused on expert presentations from Gazprom, SP JAIN, OIES and Enágas. The speakers elaborated on the (future) role of natural gas in Europe and Asia. Some of the conclusions for the European gas market were that although we will see decline in demand, nevertheless there is a future for gas in small scale LNG applications and in sustainable low carbon solutions. As a longstanding supplier to Europe, Gazprom is well positioned to supply the European market, disposing of large volumes of low cost gas and sufficient infrastructure.
The International Partner Meeting also saw the sealing of cooperation with new partners. No less than three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation were signed, including the Lithuanian International School of Management, the Indian SP JAIN Institute of Management & Research and the Skolkovo Business School in Moscow. EDI plans to a.o. develop joint programmes with each of these partners separately.
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