President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev:
Dear colleagues, we are meeting here today to discuss a series of issues relating to international energy cooperation.
But we have a good reason, apart from the conference itself, for meeting here, in Sakhalin. It relates to the opening of a new plant, the first plant in the history of the Russian Federation to produce liquefied natural gas. It is yet another important stage in the development of the unique Sakhalin-2 project, which enables to broaden both the use and supply trends for Russian gas. Naturally, it also creates new opportunities to strengthen regional and global energy security. And it is this issue, which in one way or other every one of us finds ourselves constantly working on. But of course it is also a very good example of international cooperation in this area, and an advanced and solid in scope one.
In essence all this is part of those recommendations, those duties, which we took upon ourselves in the framework of those decisions made by the G8 summit in St Petersburg back in 2006.
Russia is one of the most substantial players on the global energy market. Today the energy market is feeling the full effects of the international financial crisis. Competition is becoming more intense, and Russian exports depend, perhaps, a little more than we would have wanted, on transit countries now. In this respect we would like of course to improve the efficiency of Russia’s participation in energy cooperation, making that competition more substantial and more effective.
And that, of course, requires the consolidation of efforts by both the producers and the consumers of energy resources. Our dialogue with CIS countries, the Eurasian Economic Community countries, with the European Union, with the United States of America, and with other leading world countries, must be more active. We also have to coordinate our activity with OPEC countries, with gas exporting countries, and also within the framework of the newly created organisation, in order to facilitate the formation of a united Eurasian energy space.
Those are the basic directions of the work, but I would like to say that this work has so far not been systematic enough. Relations with the outside world in this area are often wholly formal in character. In addition to that, we ourselves often make mistakes; we do not fully take account of the political risks and practical consequences, which is why we must focus all our efforts on moulding the situation to our needs, and not be swept along in the current of someone else’s decisions, or by the desires of some other state or company.
We must not allow questions of energy cooperation, energy talks to take place without our participation, because Russia after all has the moral right, as well as the legal capability, and, chiefly, the practical ability to claim a role in all the diverse global energy processes.
Today energy has also become the subject of confrontation, and of course we need to stand our ground in relation to the pricing of basic global energy commodities, especially given the wider conditions of the difficult time in the international financial system, and the quite serious difficulties which currently exist in the oil and gas market.
One of the causes of this situation can also be found in the lack of any well rounded information in this area; in the inadequacy of the analytical base. It’s clear that the basic suppliers of analytical information on energy markers come from organisations based in the countries which import energy resources: the International Energy Agency, the energy information agency of the energy department of the USA, and of course, the documents that they prepare are seen as crucial, as pivotal, to the discussions. But it is vital that we develop our own information base. It is vital that there is an objective understanding of global energy processes, which will influence the how our partners formulate their positions, not only from the point of view of the reliability of supply of energy resources, but also the reliability of the information composition, and also of the reliability of the demand base.
Modern Russia also needs independent centres that model the future condition of global oil and gas markets; it needs a unified information analysis system, which we do not practically have to date. All our speculations about the future of the energy market have essentially been fragmentary in character, and in part also totally subjective.
We also need to form public opinion, and also it is vital we study the indirect influences on our partners’ position on the energy market. Today we also need new energy corridors, which do not involve transit. The transit of oil and gas through our territory from the territory of other states must, taking into account the diverse risks, be our priority. In addition to that it is vital we strengthen our work on the mutually beneficial exchange of shares with our leading foreign partners, and the development of new technological forms of international cooperation.
Among those matters which must not be put off, there are of course questions of energy efficiency and energy conservation. These are issues which we have been examining, which we started to look at some time ago, and on which, if we are honest about it, we have not made much progress. In this regard we have been rather lethargic, in spite of the fact that we have a special decree on this, and that companies are keen to work on it. In general, this is one of the key tasks which will in the end define our competiveness in the years to come.
There is another one current issue – the reworking of the new international legal basis in the energy security sphere. This kind of work could be carried out as part of the legislative activity within the United Nations, in other international arenas, and of course as part of those projects which we, as one of the key countries in this area, are implementing. In my opinion, there must be the participation of not only all the interested entities, but also of public organisations drawn into this process, and also of course, all the companies which take part in the supply of energy resources. This subject is relevant to all participants.
I think that the Government must develop a complex plan for the medium term, which includes those tasks which I have mentioned just now. Apart from that it is vital that there is also a concrete programme of action to bolster the position of our country on the global arena, and here I have in mind of course the key regions and leading international organisations, that are involved in this.
In the end, our future, the wellbeing of our nation, of our country as a whole, depends on how active and sustained we are in our actions in the international arena, in the energy cooperation sphere, as does the state of international energy security and global energy.
That’s enough for the start of the conversation; let’s listen to our colleagues’ speeches, and then talk.