Oct 30, 2008

3rd Energy Forum Budapest

By Andrej Nosko

Between 27 and 29 October, 2008 Budapest hosted the 3rd Energy Forum (program), organized by Constellation Energy Institute and Instytut Wschodni. This high-level meeting under the auspices of Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom, brought together almost two hundred experts, businesspeople and policy-makers from all over the world. The core of the discussions revolved around the future of the European Energy supply and thus, juxtaposing of Nabucco and South Stream emerged as consequence. The discussions about Central and Eastern European energy cooperation, also mentioned by politicians present, were very interesting in the context of mentioned energy policy strategies. The panels on alternative energy supplies, and future of nuclear energy provided some of the alternative views on possible changes to the energy mix. Since the event comprised of 13 panels, and went for two full days, it is not possible to completely cover it in the post. I will, nonetheless, provide some highlights that caught my attention:

The event opened by a presentation of The annual Energy Outlook 2008, introduced by Justine Barde, EIA Economist. Second day was opened by President Solyom, followed by 7 panels on wide-ranging topics. Out of the political speeches, Hungarian opposition leader Viktor Orban, in his address, emphasized new regional cooperation, strengthening north-south infrastructural linkages, and framing of the energy crisis as an economic opportunity. It was quite interesting hearing from him also about the geothermal and solar opportunities in Hungary, which was later on taken up by more technical presentation by MOL experts (MOL is a leader in Geothermal in Hungary). Zeyno Baran emphasized the need for clear Russian strategy, for EU and especially for CEE. Kresimir Cosic, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Croatian Parliament, presented Croatian Energy strategy and plans to build LNG terminal at Krk. Interesting discussion emerged during the panel on trade-off between competition and Energy security, when Laslo Varro, vice president for strategy and development of MOL Hungary, and Said Nachet, the energy director of International Energy forum secretariat, Saudi Arabia discussed market issues of spare capacity, pricing incentives of not removing the infrastructure bottle necks, and the effects of (de)regulation and unbundling.
Although there were no surprising news, if one follows the energy landscape in Central Europe, the discussions pointed out some re-emerging topics, and highlighted issues that will be on the agenda in the upcoming months or even years. We will surely follow developments around Nabucco v. South Stream, which should be discussed early next year at the special Nabucco summit to be held in Budapest, as well as issues of Central European Energy cooperation, which does not yet have any specific contours.

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