THE REGIONAL GAME-CHANGERS
Energy, Investment and Geopolitics
Sait Halim Paşa Yalısı, Istanbul, Turkey
12 December 2013
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In a nutshell
1 – In the words of one senior business executive, “The Bosphorus Energy Club (BEC) has produced what it set out to do” as was saidat its launch meeting and ensuing dinner debate on 12 December 2013.
2 – Around 90 executives from China, Japan, Germany, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Italy, Norway, Nigeria, Libya, Morocco, Iran, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey took active part in the discussions.
3 – Ministers, company CEOs, bankers, think-tank directors, and top leaders of International organisations gathered without protocol on an equal footing to partake in open-minded and unhindered exchange of views and opinions.
4 – The Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz summed up his verdict after attending the 12 hour-meeting from beginning to end: “The Club has proven its value and passed the critical test for its raison d’être as far as I am concerned. We will provide our strong support for its continuation”. This was echoed by other members and guests.
5 – Minister Yildiz has also accepted the invitation to become the honorary chairman of the Club, which is resolved to serve as a regional initiative. The membership has called for the designation of six regional co-chairs in due time representing each major region of importance to the BEC, i.e. Eurasia, the Middle East, the Gulf, the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Southeast Europe.
Flexible and rolling agenda
6 – Most participants at the inaugural meeting were of the view that the Club provided a valuable platform where “we defied all the conventional conference rules and actively engaged in substantive and enjoyable exchanges”.
7 – There was a heavy, but free-wheeling agenda to give a foretaste of all the issues on the drawing board of governments and businesses. Moderator Mehmet Ögütçü (Chairman Global Resources Corporation) did not stick to a formal agenda when it was felt that participants wanted to spend more time on a particular issue.
8 – Media were permitted only at the outset for the opening session and then were asked to leave. Chatham House rules allowed for the discussion of some “taboo” issues in a discreet manner. Measured media coverage was achieved.
Key highlights of the Club’s roundtable and dinner debate were as follows:
9 – The meetings and functions were held at the historic and majestic setting of the Sait Halim Pasa Yalisi on the shores of the Bosphorus, bridging Asia with Europe and Russia with the Mediterranean – signifying symbolically why Istanbul was chosen as the venue for the launch of the Club.
- Minister Yildiz’s attendance and engagement in the meeting and discussion was an appreciated hallmark. He held 11 one-to-one separate discussions with his international peers and business leaders. So did other participants with their counterparts in special rooms allocated to them.
- The Chinese and Japanese executives stressed the need for the Club to play a meaningful bridging role on critical energy dialogue and partnership between Asian, European, CIS and MENA/Gulf regions. A particular point was made on how to reconcile the Club’s definition of “our region” with that of China’s.
- Despite reservations at the outset, the Club created the opportunity for an informal dialogue between the US and Iranian senior officials on the understanding that the fragile and sensitive process currently in progress should not be impaired.
- One business leader humourously remarked: Given no formal presentations and dull statements were allowed, the discussions were so lively, an eye-opener at times and so fascinating that I couldn’t leave to relieve myself for fear of missing out on something important.
- In achieving the Club’s objectives, better coordination and consultation will be achieved with international partners and other like-minded groups as appropriate to avoid duplication and achieve mutual synergies.
Going forward: The Club’s future agenda
10 – Based on discussions and following up the recommendations from its members, the Club has resolved to focus on areas and issues where it can make a genuine contribution and bring added value.
11 – There was a widespread consensus for the BEC to address seven major issues in its follow-up activities in 2014 and beyond:
- Focusing on how best to work with Russia as a next area of attention as this remains a powerful energy player in the region. There are fresh attempts at a fundamental reform of its energy industries, trading, investment patterns and governance in the face of the “game-changing energy powershift” in regional and global markets.
- Iran’s rapprochement with the West, a possible lifting of the economic sanctions against Iran, an emerging dialogue on the Gulf region, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and ramifications of all these for the region’s energy and geopolitics, as well as investment opportunities.
- The new sources of unconventional funding for energy investments at a time when the global financial markets are in trouble.
- The creation of innovative energy partnerships to enable the East Mediterranean region to reach its full energy supplying potential and help remove the political obstacles.
- The future prospects for conventional and unconventional natural gas: market liberalisation, pricing, competitiveness, trade and geopolitics in our region?
- The roadmap for the establishment of a regional Energy Exchange and its benefits to the wider neighborhood. What are the prerequisites for a genuine regional hub for energy flows from Russia, Caspian/Central Asia, Iraq/KRG, Iran, and the Eastern Mediterranean?
- New policies to promote renewables, climate change and technology innovation in a budget-stringent era.
12 – Special thanks go to The Club’s founding members (Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Ege Gaz, Genel Energy, Tüpraş, Aygaz, Opet, Socar, BP, Shell, Chevron, PwC, Global Resources Partnership, TPAO, BOTAS) for their confidence and support. They have suggested that the Club membership should not expand too quickly and the major player criteria in a regionally and sector balanced manner should be taken into account.
13 – The Club will be flexible in responding to the new energy, finance and geopolitics issues of the day and organise ad hoc lunch or dinner debates with VIP government, business and thought leaders visiting Turkey and our region.
14 – The annual flagship Club event will be held in the autumn of 2014 at Sait Halim Pasha Palace. The exact date and main themes will be determined after consultations with members.
15 – Please feel free to share your interest in future activities, ideas and proposals with The Bopshorus Energy Club’s Executive Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org