Session to discuss ways to improve Belarus’ energy sector management

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko set a task to achieve complete energy independence and energy security in Belarus at a session to discuss ways to improve Belarus’ energy sector management on 16 November.

“The government should elaborate a forecast for the country’s energy balance and set a task to achieve complete energy independence and security,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarus’ energy system is one of the most complicated economic sectors, but it is of extraordinary importance for the domestic economy. “Its stability is paramount for the security and independence of the state,” he emphasized.

According to the president, a lot of money was injected into the energy sector to help it get better: over $1 billion was invested in the sector over the past five years alone. That allowed Belarus to get ahead of the curve in the CIS in terms of fuel consumption per 1KW of electric energy. Consumption of imported fuel has shrunk by 3 billion cubic meters of gas in equivalent. “This amounts to about $600 million per year,” the head of state noted.

Domestic production of electric energy expanded by 2.1 billion KW. “By the way, in 2018 we stopped importing electric energy, which happened for the first time,” the Belarusian leader said.

“As I was told on several occasions, Belarus’ energy system is one of the most reliable and efficient energy systems on the post-Soviet space, and it is also on par with a number of European countries. However, despite these successes, there are a number of shortcomings in the operation of our energy industry. It is high time we decide what should be done to remove existing drawbacks and increase the efficiency of the entire energy system. Many experts believe that the industry has economic, technological and managerial reserves to come up with a clear-cut action plan,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state emphasized that no experiments will be undertaken in this regard. “We have no unclear matters that would make us want to experiment. Everything is clear. The number one task is preventing any setbacks and building on our success without putting the matter on the back burner. We also need to take into consideration international energy trends and to adopt best practices and learn from mistakes, first of all of our neighbors,” the president noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the ultimate goal is streamlining the energy system, cutting unnecessary costs, as well as ensuring fair, transparent and competitive rate setting. Other areas of focus include raising investment and implementing cutting-edge technology.

“The government should prepare a comprehensive and feasible plan to promote of use of electricity in the manufacturing sector, agriculture, transport, IT, housing and utilities sector, in everyday life, and other fields,” the head of state said.

In his words, this issue is inseparably connected with the development of the Belarusian energy sector. “Therefore, I urge those in charge not to wait to long and address this issue. We have enough capacities for raising electricity consumption today, soon we will have even more opportunities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

He told government members that the level of electricity consumption is too small in Belarus. In this context, the president reminded about the future commissioning of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and stressed that the electricity generated there should be in demand. “This is the main priority in the reformation and improvement of this sector,” the head of state emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the government to inform him about a corresponding plan. “Moreover, the era of clean energy is upon us. Coal, natural gas and oil will be used less. Electric cars become more and more attractive than diesel or petrol cars. Therefore, you must realize this and prepare a comprehensive plan taking into account the balance of electricity production and consumption,” the Belarusian leader said.
“This is the main issue, so be prepared to discuss it in H1 2019,” the head of state stressed.

The president said that the specific consumption of electricity in Belarus is 2-3 times lower than in developed countries. “There is still something to strive for,” he said. “I am not speaking about energy saving. All that testifies to the small reliance of Belarusian manufacturing enterprises on electricity,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that corresponding issues will be also addressed at the session to discuss investment projects. “And it is quiet in the government. Everybody wants to work on the strategy. This is the strategy: large-scale investment projects in Svetlogorsk, Dobrush, Bobruisk,” the head of state said.

The president asked the participants of the meeting who will deliver their reports to answer a number of questions. First, what are the drawbacks of Belarus’ energy system today? Second, what does the government suggest doing in order to streamline this sector and how much time will it take? Are there any associated risks and how will they be minimized? “The third and the most important thing – what will be the effect of the suggested improvements for the energy system, domestic economy and our people?” the head of state asked.

Apart from that, the president wanted to know how people in charge will approach the country’s future energy balance.