KazEnergy Forum Addresses Realities of Growing Energy Demand

ASTANA – This year’s Kazenergy forum on Oct. 8-9 reflected on the future of conventional energy in a time of shifting demand, possible scarcity, new technologies and the pressures of climate change.

The two-day forum was held at the Palace of Independence in Astana and attracted hundreds of energy industry executives, government officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations from around the world.

The forum’s first day sessions focused on the effect of the population and development boom in Asia and the region’s upsurge in energy demand. Amid acknowledgments that future energy must be met by a spectrum of sources and a review of possible scenarios in which they could be incorporated were calls for increased investment in traditional fuels. The impact of shale was discussed, as was a return to onshore sources. A survey was also presented detailing promising new extraction and transportation technologies, particularly from China and Australia. Kazakhstan’s massive Kashagan project, which went into production only days before the event, was also reviewed.

Participants also discussed the new Eurasia project, which has the potential to double Kazakhstan’s current resource reserves. The country plans to use its Kashagan project experience to explore approximately two dozen other hydrocarbon deposits in the Caspian region. “Exploration is one of the priorities in the policy of resource and industrial development of the country,” said Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov, opening the forum.

The second day of the event continued with discussions of the main vectors of development of the global and national oil and gas energy markets and various aspects of energy security.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev in his welcoming speech noted that Kazakhstan has won the right to hold EXPO 2017 dedicated to the concept of “Future Energy,” and that Kazakhstan has begun moving towards green development. He also stressed that the greening of the economy will be managed pragmatically without creating barriers to increasing competitiveness of industry and economy.

Kazakhstan hopes to increase the amount of the country’s energy produced from renewable sources to 3 percent by 2020 and gradually increase it in subsequent years, Issekeshev said. The country is also placing significant emphasis on energy conservation and efficiency in an effort to reduce GDP energy consumption by 10 percent by 2015 and by 25 percent by 2020.

To achieve these objectives, officials have adopted specific legislation and approved the Energy Saving 2020 programme, which includes measures to reduce GDP energy consumption and increase energy efficiency in Kazakhstan. The implementation of these steps is expected to reduce energy consumption by 2030 from projected 170 billion to 145 billion kWh, Issekeshev explained.

With regard to developing Kazakhstan’s national electrical supply network, Issekeshev noted projects are planned to strengthen connections between the northern zone and the eastern and southern regions, as well as between the western zone and the northern and southern regions.

“In general, energy is one of the basic industries, the country’s economy depends on its effective activity. Therefore, this sphere will develop at a faster pace. The activity on the development strategy for the energy sector until 2030 is underway, which is to define a clear energy balance and the basic directions on all matters of electric power industry,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Petar Stoyanov, former president of Bulgaria and current president of the Center for Global Dialogue and Cooperation in Vienna, told the forum that the UN initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” seeks to bring together the three pillars of sustainable development—economical, environmental and social. He also noted that the UN has designated energy-related goals, such as universal access to modern energy conditions, doubling global growth in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy balance.

Co-Chair of Growth Energy, Director of BNK Petroleum and ex-Commander of the Supreme Headquarters of Allied States of Europe, NATO (1997-2000), General Wesley Clark presented a comparative analysis of the prices for alternative energy sources, concluding that renewables are less expensive than the production of electricity based on the combustion of gas or coal. He also spoke on the environmental effects of greenhouse gases.

Eurasian Economic Commission Board Member (Minister) for Energy and Infrastructure Danial Akhmetov addressed the forum on how the Common Economic Space (CES) between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus will impact the energy sector. Those three countries are preparing to move to a qualitatively new level of integration, ensuring functioning of the CES without exceptions and limitations that promote sustainable development of their national economies. And, according to Akhmetov, one of the priorities of integration is the energy sector.

According to Akhmetov, the CES integration strategy in the short term should be focused on developing a coordinated, coherent oil and gas sector policy towards countries outside of the CES. In this regard, one of the pressing tasks for Kazakhstan and Russia in the near future will be to develop a common energy strategy within the Eurasian Economic Union, Akhmetov said.

“This document will allow us to be optimistic about the future, its implementation will increase the competitiveness of our economies and the Eurasian Economic Union,” he concluded.

A press conference was held at the conclusion of the forum, during which the draft agendas for the seventh Astana Economic Forum and the second World Anti-Crisis Conferences were presented. These events are to be held on May 21-23, 2014 in Astana.

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