On 16 December 2013, a joint session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry was held in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on the subject of ‘Energy Security in an Era of Market Transformation’. The session brought together representatives from energy companies, the professional community, and the governments of the Russian Federation and the United Arab Emirates.
The participants discussed development paths in the energy sector, which is currently undergoing a period of transition in the global market.
UAE Oil Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei made his views clear: “It is hardly a secret that any country which depends on natural resources needs to make efforts to diversify, in order to ensure a continuous and sustainable energy supply. In the UAE, we have made the wise decision to use nuclear energy to generate 25% of our electricity needs. Alternative energy sources are also an integral part of our future, whether we like it or not.”
Minister Al Mazrouei said that for the UAE, “developing our relations with the East, including Russia, is the logical choice both commercially and politically.” The Minister expressed his hopes for growth in the bilateral UAE–Russian energy partnership.
Sergey Belyakov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, noted that when diversification is discussed in Russia, what is meant is “not just reducing the dependence of our economy on exporting resources and reducing the relative importance of this sector, but diversifying within the energy sector itself.”
Belyakov underscored the key role of Asian countries for Russian gas exports: “Traditionally we have exported gas to Europe, but Asia is a very important market for us: Asia is a region which is showing resilient growth, with a massive market to boot.”
The Deputy Minister framed cooperation with the UAE as a strategic goal in the development of Russia’s economic relations in the Middle East, mentioning upcoming oil and gas projects involving Rosneft and Lukoil that will reinforce the partnership between the two countries. Belyakov also raised the 2013 establishment of a joint fund worth USD 2 billion by UAE-based Mubadala and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
John Defterios, CNN host and emerging markets expert, moderated the session, during which participants discussed the changing geography of supply and demand for energy resources and the effects of this on the world economy; the outlook for different parts of the energy mix, including nuclear and alternative energy; the role of Russia and the Middle East on the world energy market; and what all of these factors mean for oil and gas prices. Badr Jafar, President of Crescent Petroleum, Milko Kovachev, Vice-President of Rusatom Overseas, Grant Porter, Vice Chairman, Investment Banking and Chairman of Global Natural Resources, Barclays Capital, and Gati Al-Jebouri, Senior Vice-President of Lukoil Overseas, took part in the session.
Sergey Belyakov invited the event participants to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May 2014. “The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is where political and economic decisions are made that shape not just a single country, but entire regions”, Belyakov said. He described the SPIEF session in Abu Dhabi as “one of the many steps that we are undertaking to strengthen cooperation between the Russian Federation and the UAE.”
After the panel discussion wrapped up, a trilateral letter of intent was signed between Sberbank of Russia, Technopromexport, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Company (Invest AD), regarding the financing of promising Technopromexport projects in the energy facilities construction, oil and gas, and infrastructure sectors.