EU/Russia: On Jan. 31, Gazprom-owned pipeline project Nord Stream 2 received a permit to lay its pipe in German territorial waters and the landfall area in Lubmin, near Greifswald. Whether the project gets construction permission offshore Denmark remains in doubt. On Jan. 29 it was reported that, after talks between the Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki and U.S. VP Mike Pence, Poland had asked the US that construction of the pipeline be put under American sanctions in line with the US act of Sept. 2017. If this happens, European energy companies OMV, Engie, Shell, Uniper and Wintershall – all taking part in the consortium established for the Nord Stream 2, will be fined by the U.S.
EU: A group of 13 members of the EU parliament (MEPs) signed a letter to the parliament’s industry committee, formally objecting to the current Projects of Common Interest list, including energy infrastructure projects, starting the procedure to reject it. They claim that too many projects on the current list relate to natural gas, a fossil fuel and the EU should end its support for fossil fuels. According to a report by the EU Observer, the 13 MEPs who signed the objection are from France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain and are mostly members of left-wing and left-leaning groups. If the industry committee is convinced, it has to call for a vote on the agenda during the plenary meeting of the EU Parliament. The list can only be rejected by a real majority in plenary – they cannot amend the list, but only veto against it, which would mean the Parliament would go against a decision it took in 2013. This is unlikely to happen, but this is a notable official move made by the MEPs, speaking of increasing resistance against fossil fuels and diverging political interests increasing in the EU.
EU: The EU Commission launched the Energy Poverty Observatory on Jan. 29 which aims at providing insights into the topic of energy poverty. However, critics pointed out that the Commission hasn’t yet defined what “energy poverty” means.
EU/Croatia/Latvia: European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič continued his Energy Union Tour in Croatia and Latvia this week. After discussions held in Zagreb, and after the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had announced special law to facilitate project of LNG terminal he pointed out that LNG terminal on Krk would help decrease dependence on Russian gas supply. In Latvia, Šefčovič said that the EU Commission plans focused on the synchronization of the Baltic states’electricity grid with the Continental European Network.
Poland: The Polish Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski said on Jan. 29 that Poland would decide this year on building its first nuclear power plant. He explained that while the country’s energy security is linked to coal on the long term, considering that it is “impossible” that a technological “revolution” fundamentally change the industry and make it less polluting, Poland need to work on finding other sources of energy. The project of a Polish nuclear power plant has been entrusted to Poland’s state-run PGE, Poland’s biggest power producer and it was expected that a decision be taken last year. However, works on financing have not been finished. Also during the past week, the Polish think tank Foundation for Sustainable Energy (FNEZ) noted in one analysis that Poland could build 4GW of offshore wind capacity in the Baltic Sea by 2030 and 8GW by 2035. The results of the analysis will be discussed at the Baltic Energy Industry Forum hosted in Warsaw on March. All this is notable, reinforcing the latest preoccupation of the Polish government on diversifying energy sources away from coal.
Ukraine: Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Ihor Nasalyk met the representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Jan. 30. They have discussed the corporatization of state-owned companies and about the tender to select four independent members for the supervisory board of Ukrenergo. They have also talked about the development of renewable energy in the country. Ukraine needs to implement new legislative regulation and work with the international organizations on specific platforms for financing renewable energy projects. Also during last week, the state energy company Enerhoatom signed an agreement to extend a contract with the US-Japanese company Westinghouse until 2025 on the nuclear fuel supplies for seven out of 15 Ukrainian nuclear energy units.
Moldova: The Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip met the UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Jan. 30 and signed two agreements aimed at boosting economic and technical cooperation between the countries. The text of the agreements notes that Moldova and the UAE will expand their partnership in the energy sectors, among others. Moldovan Pavel Filip also invited UAE companies to become involved in privatisation in Moldova.
The U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Geological & Environmental Systems (GES) directorate researchers investigate whether the geologic formations found deep underground that offer repositories for safe and effective storage of large volumes of human-made CO2, and geologic carbon storage (GCS) can be an alternative technology to facilitate continued and sustainable use of fossil energy resources to supply low-carbon energy. The GES directorate is focusing its research on the critical behavior of engineered-geologic systems associated with fossil energy resource extraction.
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