Fight between Board for regulation and minister of economy deepens
Future of the Board for Regulation
and the Regulatory Office
for Network Industries
The Board for Regulation will not be canceled as it was previously planned. The decision was taken by Slovak PM Mrs. Iveta Radičová. Radičová together with her coalition partners voted against the suggestion of Minister of Economy and Construction Mr. Juraj Miškov. Miškov planned to cancel the Board within the frame of the amendment Bill for the Regulation law.
According to the government, the proposed step would not fulfill the program declaration of the government. As Mrs. Radičová explained, „the declaration clearly states that we will depoliticize the whole functioning of the ÚRSO (Regulatory Office). So if the chief of the Regulatory Office would be nominated by the government, it would be the completely opposite process.”
Juraj Miškov now has to come up with a different solution on how to re-organize the Regulatory Office ÚRSO and overall regulatory framework. The original proposal to cancel the Board for Regulation on 1st November was presented by him during the stipulation process last week. In case the government would vote for the proposal, the current members sitting in the Board would have to leave their posts. The next would be the direct nomination of the new chairman and vice-chairman of ÚRSO by the government.
Minister Miškov defended his proposal saying that until now, the Board for regulation did not fulfill the expectations and goals for why it was created in 2007.
The dispute between Minister Miškov and Board chairman Holjenčík started on Monday, 13th September when Miškov accused the ÚRSO Board that they did not hand in their proposals for the chairman and vice-chairman positions. Holjenčík on the contrary argued that the Board did so already in 2007, 16 days after the Board was appointed.
As Miškov stated, „the government appoints the chairman and vice-chairman of ÚRSO based on the proposals of the Board of Regulation. Since 15th of March 2007 the Board did not act and Mr. Holjenčík had three years to provide us with candidates.” Miškov went on by explaining that after he became the Minister in July, he gave Holjenčík time until the end of August to act in the matter, but nothing has happened. Furthermore Miškov argued that it is against the law that Mr. Holjenčík acts as both, member of the Board of Regulation and as chairman of ÚRSO.
The chairman of Board Jozef Holjenčík perceives the proposal as a political intervention into the functioning of the Regulatory office that should be independent from the government. If the government cancels the Board for Regulation, ÚRSO will become an extended hand of the Ministry of Economy. He also noted that the Ministry of Economy did not consult its proposals for amending the Regulatory law with any other organs of the state regulation.
This time, Mr. Holjenčík as a Board chairman acts as a temporary ÚRSO chairman as well. Mr. Holjencik had been a nominee of previous PM Mr. Robert Fico, so new government has taken unofficial political decision to make him to step down.
Week in Slovakia
Monday – 13th September 2010
Prime Minister Iveta Radičová has apologized during her official visit in Austria to the Austrian chancellor in connection with the insufficient communication of Slovakia with regards its decision to finish off the construction of the nuclear power plant Mochovce. Vienna is a longstanding opponent of putting into operation the third and fourth reactors of the power plant. Ex-minister of Economy Ľubomír Jahnátek labeled the doing of Radičová as „servility”.
According to Minister of Economy and Reconstruction Juraj Miškov, chair person of the Council for regulation Jozef Holjenčík is misusing the current situation and is purposely blocking the nomination of a new director of the Regulatory Office (ÚRSO).
Wednesday – 15th September 201
The ruling coalition refused the proposal of Minister of Economy by which the Council for regulation should be cancelled. According to Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, such a step would not be in line with the program declaration of the government.
Thursday – 16th September 2010
A successful testing of the technology for coal gasification took place in one of the Slovak mining complexes in Hornonitrianské bane Prievidza. In future it will be possible to acquire energy by this form also from coal reserves that are not suitable for exploitation by conventional methods. The coal field in the Hornonitranská area holds more than 50 or 80 mil. tons of coal that could be used this way. The experimental project was carried out by experts from the Faculty of mining, ecology, management and geo-technologies at the Technical University in Košice.
European Union and World
Monday – 13th September 2010
Lithuania is looking for a strategic investor for constructing a new nuclear power plant in the town Visaginas. The government should choose the supplier until the end of this year. By adding a nuclear power plant to the national grid, the government aims at decreasing its energy dependence on Russian Federation which has increased after the powe plant Ignalina was shut down in December 2009. Currently Lithuania imports more than 50 % of electricity.
Kuwait will rely on nuclear energy in future. The country wasn’t to build four new nuclear reactors until 2022 and each one of them will have a total installed capacity of 1.000 MW.
A new round of talks about the details of the gas pipeline connection AGRI took place in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. High representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania took part at the meeting.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that the world demand for energy will increase by approximately 40 % until 2030. One of the problems for many countries is the lack of power plants (mostly China), but also the need to modernize the electric transmission networks (e.g. USA).
BP announces that it is possible that it will pay less than 20 billion US dollars for the damages caused by the explosion at the oil well in Mexican Gulf. This amount of money was allocated by the company at first in order to compensate the losses.
Tuesday – 14th September 2010
The Ukrainian President committed his country to ensure stability of natural gas supplies for EU via Ukraine during a high meeting with the President of the European Commission in Brussels. According to Viktor Janukovič, a gas crisis similar to the one from January 2009 will not happen again.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) celebrated its 50 years of existence.
Russian oil giant Lukoil will more than likely obtain tax allowances for extraction of Caspian oil. The financial benefit from the government will have the form of a lower tax for export from the oil field Juri Korchagin. The measure approved by the government should support oil production in the regions.
Currently, approximately one fourth or even one third of all the people living on Earth do not have access to energy. This and other energy problems were discussed during the World conference on energy in Montreal.
Wednesday – 15th September 2010
The government in Czech Republic has approved an amendment bill on the support for renewable energy sources. If the proposal also passes through the parliament, starting off in 2011 financial subsidies for solar power plants located in fields and meadows will end. The new law would not affect solar panels that are built on rooftops. According to Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kocourek, this arrangement should discourage investors to connect approximately 700 MW into the grid.
Danish company Vestas will construct 29 wind turbines in Poland with a total installed capacity of 58 MW.
Spanish Energy Company Iberdola plans to invest more than 5 billion euro during the next two years in Great Britain in order to develop and support the renewable energy sector.
Oil from Iraq can be the solution for the growing world oil demand. According to the Iraqi Minister for Oil Industry it is in the interest of the country to cooperate with OPEC in order to preserve stabile oil prices on the world markets.
British – Netherlands company Roayl Dutch Shell is thinking about investing 1 billion US dollars into natural gas extraction in China. The final decision about the investment will be taken after the company receives the results of geological explorations in the region.
After the explosion of the oil field Deepwater Horizon in April 2010, the conditions for granting licenses for oil extraction in shallow water are stricter in USA. American companies have to react to the situation by firing their employees.
Thursday – 16th September 2010
Czech police conducted a hearing with the Czech ex-Prime Minister Miloš Zeman with regards to the privatization of the coal mining company Mostecká uholná that happened ten years ago. According to him, the government then sold only a minority shake of the company and the rest of the privatization took place during the ruling of Václav Klaus. Apart from Zeman, ex-Minister of Labor and Social issues Vladimír Špidla or ex-Minister for Eduacation Eduard Zeman were also present at the hearing.
European Union will help the citizens of Africa to gain a better access to electricity. The agreement was signed at the conference entitled Africa – EU Energy Partnership. According to the program, until 2020, more than 100 million Africans should be provided with an access to electricity from renewable sources, international electricity connections should double and natural gas should be also used more intensively in Africa. The investments will be more than 5 million euro.
The national action plans of the EU for renewable energy sources are not effective according to the expert study of the company McKinsey. The study argues that the action plans take a share in a steady increase of electricity prices. By 2050 EU member states will jointly lose out on it approximately 2 billion euro.
European Union will have treble its efforts in effectively using energy sources if it wants to reach its goals according to a study that was ordered by the European Climate Foundation. If Europe will use energy efficiently, European citizens could save 78 billion euro until 2020.
The recent extension of the lifespan of German nuclear power plants represents a chance for Czech Republic and its companies and experts from the nuclear sector. The belief was expressed by the president of the Industry Association in Czech Republic.
Hungary plans to close down the last mine in the town Oroszlany until the end of this year. The coal mined out from Oroszlany is used for electricity generation. At the end of 2010 the last coal power plant Vertesi will also be gradually shut down. The decision came as a result of an economic recession, EU regulations and uneconomic performance of the coal mines.
German concern RWE will not construct the power plant for burning coal in Poland in the end. The reason behind the decision is the economical unprofitability of the whole project. The power plant was supposed to have a total installed capacity of 800 MW.
According to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, construction of the natural gas connection AGRI will definitely not be finished during four or five years.
Friday – 17th September 2010
Ex-prime minister of Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek will probably be nominated as the chief of the OECD energy agency. His nomination was discussed between EU commissioner for energy Günther Oettinger and chairman of the Czech Republic government Petr Nečas.
Czech energy company ČEZ is screening all three subjects that are interested in finishing off the construction of the Nuclear power plant in Temelín. Atomstrojexport, Areva and Westinghouse are the top three candidates. The decision on who will be the supplier should be taken at the beginning of 2012.
Chief Director of the Hungarian oil-gas company MOL, Zsolt Hernádi will step down from his post until the end of September or latest at the beginning of October 2010.
The biggest oil producer in Russian Rosneft is taking into consideration to invest in Iraq. The information was also confirmed by the newly appointed president of the company Eduard Khudainatov.
Algeria will intensify its efforts to search for new energy sources. The country fill focus mainly on fields of unconventional natural gas. Until 2020 it also wants to build a nuclear power plant.