Dobar dan, dobro došli u Neum.
It is a pleasure to be here at today’s Energy Summit. I am happy to see so many legislative and executive authorities, energy sector stakeholders, and international community representatives in attendance. Thank you all for coming.
Everywhere around the world, energy – particularly electricity – is the backbone of the economy and an essential part of everyday life. I urge you to take advantage of this summit to make progress in three key areas: BiH’s transition to clean energy; adoption of the State Electricity and Gas Law; and energy security via the South Natural Gas Interconnection Project. Strategic and concrete actions from you in these areas will benefit BiH citizens and those in the surrounding region.
Theme of the Summit 2022 – Transition
As you know, at this year’s Energy Summit we will focus on BiH’s transition to clean energy. Around the world, energy systems are undergoing a structural change, transitioning from conventional fossil-fuel-based systems to renewable energy sources, to mitigate the effects of climate change and prepare for current and future realities. This transition will drive economic growth and create opportunities for investments and new jobs.
Energy producers and consumers will take a more active role in their energy choices, reap financial benefits, and reduce their impact on the environment.
This summit brings together the BiH energy community with the international community, to deliver a powerful, unified message that BiH must commit to an energy transition towards renewables, diversity its energy supply, and meet the climate pledges the government has already made.
Status of Energy Sector Reform
In 2019, at the 5th Energy Summit, my predecessor, together with other ambassadors and state and entity prime ministers and ministers, signed a Joint Statement on BiH’s energy sector reform. I understand that you have made some significant steps forward since then, but also no progress on several important and required reforms.
This is clearly the case in the natural gas sector. The lack of any regulatory framework in that sector causes unnecessary confusion and structural problems, not just for citizens, but natural gas companies and investors as well.
The absence of a modern state-level Electricity and Natural Gas Law is holding the electricity and natural gas sectors, as well as BiH citizens and the economy, hostage.
The law would bring clarity to investors and citizens alike. It would also enable the establishment of an electricity power exchange, which would bring significant economic opportunities and benefits and further stimulate generation from renewable energy sources.
The U.S. government and the international community continue to urge all sides to reach an agreement and adopt this much-needed law. Without a state law, BiH’s energy sector and economy will continue to lag behind countries in the region and the EU. It is critical that all sides do what needs to be done and reach an agreement that serves the needs of the sector and citizens, rather than narrow self-interests.
The last major structural reform of the electricity sector, in 2005, withstood the test of time, and shows us that, when done right, reforms can increase prosperity and security. Now is the time to organize the natural gas sector in a transparent manner and ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders. This will result in clearer options for companies and improved energy choices for the citizens of BiH.
South Natural Gas Interconnection Project
Conflict in Europe has changed the new geopolitical landscape in Europe, including the Western Balkans. It has underscored just how critical energy security is to all countries, including BiH. Now more than ever, the country’s energy security is at risk.
BiH should act to diversify the sources of its natural gas and improve the conditions for investments in renewables. Connecting BiH to alternative sources of natural gas in Europe via the South Natural Gas Interconnection pipeline project and attracting investment in renewables are essential steps toward securing BiH’s energy and economic future.
The pipeline will link regional natural gas infrastructure and supply to new areas of BiH. It will serve as an important steppingstone, assisting BiH in the energy transition process, away from coal and toward renewable energy. I am pleased to hear there has been forward momentum on the South Natural Gas Interconnection, and I urge all parties to prioritize its construction.
BiH does not have the luxury of choosing whether or not to reform its energy sector – it is a necessity if BiH is to continue to develop. Leaders must come together to overcome current political difficulties and find a way to implement reform commitments. Without reforms BiH, its economy, and its citizens will be left behind as the rest of the world advances its energy security and transitions toward cleaner energy options.
The U.S. government has a long history of assistance in the BiH energy sector. I believe that with the right political decisions, the energy sector reforms and changes recommended by the decision makers, experts, and investors here this week can drive economic development in BiH.
I look forward to hearing the proposed next steps and working together on their implementation. And I hope and expect that at next year’s Energy Summit, we will all be able to applaud the huge leap forward the energy sector took over the previous year, and welcome concrete progress in BiH’s energy transition.
Thank you, and I wish you all a productive and successful summit. Hvala i sretno!