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Round table: Energy Security of Bulgaria: European and International Framework
On 7 June 2013, the Center for the Study for the Study of Democracy held a round table about the Energy Security of Bulgaria: European and International Framework. Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman of the Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the event and highlighted CSD’s efforts to promote evidence-based policy-making in Bulgaria in the energy sector by introducing international best practice in this area. Mr. Steve Eule, Vice President of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the special guest and keynote speaker of the event.

Mr. Eule opened the event by presenting the Index of US Energy Security Risk, which uses 37 metrics to identify the policies and other factors that contribute positively or negatively to U.S. energy security and forecast the development of the sector. He also discussed the International Energy Security Risk Index, which was developed in order to compare the US to other countries. He noted that among the top 75 energy-consuming countries Bulgaria ranks in 71st place. Mr Eule explained that this is probably the result of the high levels of energy intensity, dependence on imports for much of the energy needs of the country, and high expenditures in the sector.

Mr. Eule outlined the benefits of the shale gas revolution to the US economy emphasizing that it has significantly reduced its energy security risk, while lowering natural gas prices, which are no longer dependent on crude oil prices. The lower energy security risk of the US has resulted in easing of risk concerns elsewhere in the world, and most notably Europe, as gas imports destined for the US have been redirected elsewhere. He also pointed out that the environmental concerns that underpin EU energy policy might be preventing it from reaping the benefits of the available energy resources, particularly natural gas (including shale), which could satisfy Europe’s entire demand for the next 40 years. H. E. Mr. Reiveger, the Ambassador of Austria to Sofia, replied by emphasized the importance of improving energy efficiency and reducing energy demand instead of relying on fossil fuels. Mr. Pfanne, Economic Advisor at the German Embassy in Sofia, noted that climate change should remain a key priority for the EU and that developing renewable energy sources should take precedence over extracting fossil fuels.

Ambassador Ilian Vassilev started the open discussion after the keynote by suggesting that the international index should include the impact of political and economic circumstances on energy security and that Bulgaria should focus on maximizing its own natural resources to improve its energy security. Professor Plamen Cvetanov from the Bulgarian Academy of Science emphasized the importance of forming energy policies based on national interests, the resources available, and on reliable data. The Former Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov implied that Bulgaria’s energy policy should take into consideration the requirements of the EU, but not at the expense of its domestic needs and realities. According to the Ms. Teodora Georgieva, Managing Director of Nabucco Bulgaria, the project offers one of the few real alternatives to diversify Bulgaria’s energy mix, address its dependence on imports, and consequently lower domestic energy prices.

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