Vice-president of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, welcomed the conference as an opportunity to discuss solutions, given that “Europe has faced an unprecedented energy crisis in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine” – a crisis he said continued to threaten “the competitiveness of Europe and our social model”.
In addition to a keynote by MEP Jerzy Buzek, Eurogas also warmly welcomed the CEO of Naftogaz of Ukraine, Oleksiy Chernyshov. Mr Chernyshov spoke of his task to secure the stable provision of gas and heating services to more than 12.5 million Ukrainian households, as well as municipalities, cities, central heating plants, electric plants, and industry. “Russia is trying to deprive Ukrainians of basic services: electricity, gas, heating, water and more. But all this just encourages Ukrainians to fight and stand united.”
In Brussels, our speakers stressed that critical work was being conducted to enhance solidarity within the EU, where “energy security and the energy transition go hand in hand”.
Cristina Lobillo Borrero of the Commission’s DG ENER recalled that in 2022, six legislative packages in energy had been adopted – an equally “unprecedented” effort. “In one year we replaced over 70 bcm of gas, towards more reliable partners in the United States, Azerbaijian, Norway and Algeria.”
“Last year the Council of the EU put in more specific measures to increase solidarity among member states to support each other in terms of crises, in particular security of supply. And we also created the energy platform task force,” she said, adding that the crisis was “not over yet”.
“Obviously we want to completely replace oil and coal for gas. We want to cooperate with our partners [abroad] who are suppliers of gas, and we also want to work with them to reduce methane emissions. We believe it’s possible to produce gas in a cleaner way, and this is why our next steps include intense work on methane emissions reduction.”
Indeed Eurogas president Didier Holleaux welcomed “the efforts by the EC in terms of securing natural gas from new suppliers.” Mr Holleaux said: “ Energy security in the context created by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine makes it more necessary than ever to ensure we will have the natural gas we need to ensure smooth conditions in Europe for the years to come. We welcome the words of vice-president Maroš Šefčovič reminding us that natural gas is a part of the energy transition, and that long-term contracts are necessary, and that what is prohibited is unabated natural gas by 2049.”
In this respect, the conference also dealt with the deployment of low-carbon and renewable gases in transport – a theme introduced during a special speech on biomethane by Landwarme CEO, Zoltan Elek.
Closing the conference, Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director General of DG ENER at the European Commission, noted that policies had to “address both the climate crisis, and the energy crisis”: “We need to keep our 2050 objectives in mind. There is no energy security without energy transition, and there is no energy transition without energy security.”