Honorable Minister Traykov,
The World Bank Sofia Office is pleased to support and participate in today’s Energy forum. I would like to thank the organizers, Ms. Prokopieva and Kapital weekly, and the sponsors, for making it possible for all of to get together.
Energy efficiency and security are key to Bulgaria’s productivity and competitiveness in the long-run; and the ‘life-blood’ which keeps the economy running on an everyday basis. Secure, affordable, and environmentally friendly energy supplies are the fuel for Bulgaria’s recovery from the economic crisis and return to sustainable growth rates.
The challenge for energy supplies (oil and gas) and derivative energy (electricity and district heating) in the region are considerable and, indeed, deserve our attention. Let me briefly highlight four issues for your attention:
- There is uncertainty as to aggregate supply and demand at the regional level in the medium-term, that is compounded by old and deteriorating energy infrastructure;
- Bulgaria remains vulnerable to external supply shocks – as was demonstrated during last year’s gas supply crisis;
- Bulgaria is the ‘leader’ in Europe and the regional (excluding Ukraine) in terms of energy intensity – a position it does not want to be in. More needs to be done. Reducing energy consumption is a triple win for Bulgaria: it reduces Green House Gasses (GHG) emissions; it also reduces investment needs in new energy infrastructure; and it improves energy security. For consumers, wasting less energy will also act as a ‘brake’ on future price increases; and
- There is a still unfinished agenda of opening markets and getting the full benefit from regional co-operation
All these challenges need to be met in an environmentally friendly way, in compliance with ambitious EU GHG emission reduction targets; and I believe it is important that Europe meets these challenges and remains a leader in environmentally friendly energy production / consumption.
To be successful will require the efforts and collaboration of all gathered here today, the private sector, Government and civil society. I therefore wish you constructive and fruitful deliberations.
Thank you very much.