20 January 2017
An excerpt from the interview:
Brussels Energy Club is a new platform to engage in debates about energy investments, energy politics, and how to deal with Russia and Gazprom. These debates are in-depth on one hand and very neutral to stakeholder views on the other hand. There are strong lobbies in Europe representing various interests, whether they represent the coal industry, or nuclear, gas, whatever, as well as perspectives, so there are often message-oriented meetings with high-level people addressing a big audience, not really exchanging information. I noticed that there was a void or a gap, a need for platforms where educated people, no matter what country they come from, no matter what interest they have behind them, can actually sit and talk in a non-emotional way, and try to look at the facts and exchange them, gain some insights that are not necessarily out in the public sphere all the time, and try to come to a verdict, a conclusion on certain issues.
So, recently we had a members’ discussion on Ukraine, and we wanted to look as to whether the current Ukrainian government should continue its energy security strategies or whether Ukraine should look at its proven gas reserves and other means of attracting investment and liberating those reserves to allow Ukraine to become a gas producer. It’s a very significant gas importer at the moment of Russian gas, but, if Ukraine can actually move away from this transit umbilical cord, and move towards the production of gas where it can satisfy its own needs and export gas to Europe. It can actually generate good taxation from private investment. We had a very rational debate about this which involved presenter Philip Vorobyov, Head of Strategy and Communications at London's JKX Oil & Gas. We had discussions with representatives of Naftogaz Ukraine and Gazprom in Brussels, representatives of the Europan Commission, of the energy companies, diplomats… Our meetings last usually for two hours, which involve also very strong networking. I would describe it as something in between Chatham House and the Travellers Club on Pall Mall. We are an NGO under Belgium law so we’re not-for-profit and we’re funded by annual membership subscriptions from energy companies. We meet every six weeks to two months. Soon we should have our Christmas event when we present a monthly analysis publication on Gazprom’s external business.”