Alexander Novak made it clear: “I hope that the sanctions against Russia will not be applied, in any case, Nord Stream 2 will be completed by 2019”. The announcement resounded clearly at the World Energy Week 2018, promoted by WEC Italia, in Milan. The Russian Minister of Energy has no doubt on the need to proceed swiftly to complete the second pipeline that will supply Russian gas to Europe. Novak also announced that Saint Petersburg was selected to host the 25th World Energy Congress, which will take place in the summer of 2022. But, obviously, the minister has at heart mainly his nation's energy developments.
Which energy sectors is Russia most interested in at the moment?
Russia intends to develop all energy sectors, from oil and gas to nuclear and renewable energy. In terms of contribution to the country, the main sector is oil, followed by gas.
Talking about oil, a few days ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud said that "within the next 19 years, Russia's oil production will be considerably reduced, or even disappear, with its 10 million barrels". Can you confirm this?
Today, Russia leads the world's oil production industry and it will continue to do so for many years to come. Our strategy includes not just maintaining current production levels, but also increasing them. In September, on average, we extracted 11,350 barrels per day, but if needed we can increase our production to 200-300 barrels per day.
The disputes on Russian gas and on the need for the Nord Stream 2 are still ongoing. If America decides to impose sanctions on the pipeline, some of the participating companies have announced they may withdraw from the project. How are you factoring this in?
We sincerely hope the sanctions won't be applied. But if they are applied, the project will be completed all the same. Work on the project has already started. Our plans show that the pipeline will be completed by the end of 2019, and we have no intention of changing them.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that America's LNG costs 30% more than Russia's. But some European companies, including in Italy, buy or intend to buy American gas. Why do you think?
Our country is closer and more convenient for Europe. On average, our sales have increased by 6% every year for the past two years. Clients choose us. Last year, we sold 24 billion cbm of gas to Italy. But if Italy wants more, there is room for negotiation. Our reserves and capacity allow us to increase these volumes. Nevertheless, this is for the companies and their partners to decide.
Is there any news on the Turkish Stream?
One pipeline has already been completed (15.75 billion cbm per year), the second is 85% complete. Therefore, we have no doubt that the project will be ready by 2019, when we will start delivering gas.
You met your Syrian colleague at the Russian Energy Week in Moscow. What did you talk about?
We discussed collaboration in the energy sector, in particular rebuilding and modernizing four power stations, but we also talked about restoring the pipelines to transport gas and to extract oil and gas.
Considering the current geopolitical tensions, was the choice of Russia as host for the 25th World Energy Congress in 2022 a pleasant surprise?
All members took part in the secret vote. For Russia, as the world's leading energy producer, it's a great honor. All Russia's main energy companies supported the candidacy, and so did their international partners. Despite the difficult international situation, the Russian Federation is available to interact with all partners and consider mutual interests. In the current turbulent conditions, for us it is important to preserve and develop those platforms and mechanisms that enable us to discuss the current situation and any issues, also with those parties who, apparently, are opposed. Saint Petersburg has the capability to organize international events on a large scale. The city already hosted the G8 and G20 summits, and every year it organizes Saint Petersburg's International Economic Forum. Furthermore, it is a beautiful city, especially in the summer during the white nights. We look forward to seeing you all there.