The Changing Energy Landscape in Europe and Eurasia: Emerging Threats and Opportunities
On April 8, the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy (CISTP), in cooperation with the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies (CETS) and the Georgia Tech Energy Club hosted a panel discussion entitled “The Changing Energy Landscape in Europe and Eurasia: Emerging Threats and Opportunities.” The talk featured a keynote address by His Excellency Elin Suleymanov, ambassador of Azerbaijan to the United States, and was followed by a panel discussion between Jay Thompson, manager of International Government Affairs at Chevron, Bud Coote, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Alasdair Young, professor in the Ivan Allen College Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and co-director of CETS, and Adam Stulberg, professor in the Sam Nunn School and co-director of CISTP.
The event began with Suleymanov outlining the current state of Azerbaijan’s relations with the U.S., as well as the state of its oil and energy independence. Since 1991, Azerbaijan has sustained a tradition of oil and energy independence, which is no small feat in a region of post-totalitarian countries. In 1994, the U.S. invested roughly $8 billion in Azerbaijan in an unprecedented 30-year energy contract. Suleymanov stated that the government realized the importance of being a long-term partner as opposed to receiving short-term financial gain from a business deal. Azerbaijan drove a hard line on this contract but once agreed upon has maintained all conditions and is one of the strongest strategic partners with the European Union (E.U.). With the help of continued American investment, Azerbaijan began a pipeline in 1996 which was completed in 2006 and connected their oil and gas infrastructure with that of Turkey and Georgia. As a result, the geography of the Adriatic and Aegean regions has been changed — creating a new geo-political reality in Eastern and Southern Europe.
Thompson discussed the industry perspective of the region’s changing landscape. At the onset of the shale revolution in 2006, there was a projected need for reliance on natural gas in North America. In the early stages the industry grew and jobs increased. There were prospects for a “European energy renaissance” because of a geopolitical entrance in the region. However, there was a demonstrated shortage of necessary shale national gas reserves that resulted in regulatory uncertainty for the potential of natural gas collection and production. Consequently, Chevron retreated from the region, but the opportunity still remains for more production in the future.
Young explained the difficulties the European Union faces with policy cooperation and integration regarding energy policy. This is an enduring problem for the E.U. and it continues to affect their goal of maintaining competition, sustainability, and security within a single unified energy market.
Coote described the implications of U.S. investment in natural gas due to its costly infrastructure regarding collection and distribution. He stated that the growth in liquefied natural gas (LNG) has helped integrate the markets, but major price differentials in gas markets remain. Russia has proven to be an unpredictable supplier in terms of pricing and has consistently engaged in monopolistic trade rather than competitive trade. Coote posited that the U.S. appears to be in a position to be a reliable supplier of natural gas to Europe.
Stulberg spoke at length about Russia’s use of energy as an instrument of coercion. Despite Russia’s lack of reliability of supply and the costs it suffered due to international sanctions, it retains regional advantages and remains a competitor with cost advantages and strong corporate ties.
According to each of the panelists, the future of energy security is uncertain but the U.S. is likely to emerge as a supplier in this market, but Russia will maintain its status as a potential escalator of conflict.
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- Created By:Daniel Singer
- Modified By:Fletcher Moore