EAGC 2010 Berlin: European Commissioner for Energy Says Infrastructure is Key to EU Energy Future

Keynote speaker Gϋnther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy, European Commission, at last week’s 2010 European Autumn Gas Conference, said “the urgent necessity to provide the energy market with a proper infrastructure is one of the key priorities of the new energy strategy until 2020,” which was presented by the European Commission on Wednesday. “All our energy objectives have one common denominator – infrastructure,” said Mr Oettinger.

“The energy policy vision we are pursuing powers an efficient low carbon economy, which puts additional pressure on infrastructure development. We know that we will not achieve our goals if we rely on today’s energy infrastructure and at the same time our infrastructure is ageing and needs to be refurbished and modernised,” Mr Oettinger continued.

Mr Oettinger said there had been dramatic changes over the past 25 years in the way people use and consume energy with unprecedented turbulence in the industry, particularly in the past two years.

Paul van Gelder, Chief Executive Officer, Gasunie said: “We strongly believe in diversity of supply and the need for gas infrastructure.” Mr van Gelder said the reason for this is the declining indigenous production in Europe, an expected rise in the share of gas and an increase in global demand for and in the use of natural gas.

A real-time vote was held at the EAGC amongst delegates including ‘What will shape Europe’s gas infrastructure in the future and how will it be expanded, maintained and operated.’ Most believed that gradually, cross-border transregional companies will come to run transportation only businesses and will be regionally regulated. The full report will be released shortly.

Held 9-10 November in Berlin and hosted by RWE Supply & Trading, the EAGC announced record delegate attendance and excellent feedback on an impressive speaker line-up and session topics. One of the longest running annual gas conferences in Europe and celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010, the EAGC has evolved and expanded over the years, exploring the most relevant and topical issues driving the European gas industry.

Gas industry leaders and many high ranking speakers and delegates discussed and debated the volatility of the market and a variety of issues currently affecting the gas industry, creating an interesting and content rich programme.

“What is amazing about this year’s EAGC is that we have come on such a long journey since its beginnings 25 years ago. We have come through a very rough patch but we have learnt at the EAGC this year that we are not out of the danger yet. There has to be an even playing field and gas has to be considered as one of the routes out of the high carbon world rather than as an obstacle,” said James Ball, President Director, Gas Strategies and Chairman of the EAGC Executive Advisory Board.

Stefan Judisch, CEO, RWE Supply & Trading, conducted the official EAGC opening welcome. Mr Judisch said the development over the past 25 years has been very positive but that we have recently witnessed extraordinary changes and the gas industry must today address a set of challenges which have unparalleled significance.

Mr Judisch discussed renewable energy subsidies and said that costs to the average German household of subsidising renewable energy generation is expected to increase up to 40%. “We can now predict for the first time that in 2012, the renewable levy on the household bill will be higher than the actual electricity price,” said Mr Judisch. Mr Judisch also said that the renewable schemes are not market based and therefore more government intervention is necessary.

Jean-Marie Dauger, Executive Vice President, GDF Suez, addressed the topic, ‘Justifying new gas supply investment.’ Mr Dauger said that huge investments are needed in the energy sector due to an expected increase in European gas demand by 2030.

Beate Raabe, Director EU Affairs, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) explored the role of gas in ’20 20 20′. Beate Raabe said that natural gas can act as a successful bridge fuel to a low-carbon economy because it is energy efficient, it can provide a back up to renewable energy and it is affordable.

Joschka Fischer, former Vice-Chancellor & Foreign Minister of Germany said that we will soon see a dramatic change in the whole energy system. “Moving from a carbon based and nuclear based energy system to a post carbon energy system, there will be a step in between.” Mr Fischer believes that this step is a low carbon energy system. “A low carbon energy source like natural gas will play a very important role. This message should be brought to politics but also to society and to relevant stakeholders in this society,” said Mr Fischer.

The battle of the pipelines was another pressing issue debated at the EAGC, ‘Does Europe need any new pipelines, and if so, which one?’ Uwe Fip, Senior Vice President Gas Supply East, E.ON Ruhrgas AG said that, “new import pipelines to Europe are needed to cover Europe’s growing import needs. They will further increase security of supply by diversifying transport routes and providing access to new supply sources.”

Rashid Al Marri, General Manager, South Hook Gas Company, announced at the EAGC that Qatar shipped their 100th LNG cargo into the UK gas market at its South Hook LNG terminal in Wales.

Next year the EAGC will be held November 15-16 in Paris, sponsored by eni, Total and GDF Suez.

Source: EAGC, November 22, 2010

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