The 5th EUCERS workshop held in cooperation with the Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Centre (CPEWC) Bucharest, focused on Energy Security in the Black Sea Region.
High-profile speakers including Dr Ashti Hawrami, the Iraqi Kurdish Energy Minister, representatives of academia, banks, energy companies and consultancies reiterated questions related to the challenges facing European countries in securing stable supplies of natural gas.
The first part of the roundtable held at King’s College London saw the launch of “Energy Security Strategies in the Wider Black Sea Region.” The book published by CPEWC investigates potential risks related to security of supply, the importance of alternative routes for the transport of hydrocarbons to European markets and the notion of regional interdependence.
Professor Iulian Chifu and Bogdan Nedea, two of the authors, defended their research theses and answered questions regarding “Southern Corridor” projects such as Nabucco, South Stream gas pipelines as well as AGRI, a Romanian-backed LNG project that aims to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Romania via Georgia and the Black Sea.
There were also questions related to the regulatory framework of transit countries and the potential for introducing more business-friendly regulations in countries.
In the second part of the workshop Dr Hawrami discussed developments in the Kurdish energy sector. The area which sits on sizeable sources of natural gas – anything between 3 – 6trillion cubic metres (tcm) – could become a reliable supplier to the Nabucco gas pipeline.
The EU-backed project aims to transport up to 31billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas from Azerbaijan, possibly the Kurdish region and Turkmenistan to European markets. Nabucco was expected to go online by 2015 but has now been delayed by two years.
Speakers have warned that without a clear undertaking from Nabucco stakeholders the project is unlikely to get the necessary cash or indeed the necessary gas supplies, which the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) could divert to neighbouring Turkey. The country is already heavily involved in investing in the region’s oil and gas sector.
In fact bank representatives emphasised the need for decisive action from the consortium in order to attract the necessary investments.
The Nabucco consortium has always insisted that the project will ahead according to plans, being the only viable solution for the European markets of all those mooted as part of the “Southern Corridor” vision.
Stakeholders have also stressed their interest in securing vital volumes from the Kurdish region, recognising, at the same time the importance of this new supplier.