* "I hope that the government won't use the new fiscal regime of royalties as an intimidation tool against hydrocarbon producers"
* Interview with PNL Lucian Bode, former minister of the economy
Reporter: What is your opinion on the decision of the authorities to once again change the Energy Strategy?
Lucian Bode: To me, the unreliability of the current government is obvious when it comes to the completion and approval of this document that is of strategic importance for the national energy sector. The old team of the Ministry of Energy left them this project in a completed state at the end of 2016. "Revising" that document in a few weeks is ridiculous, as minister Toma Petcu in the hearings of the specialized commissions, said that the Energy Strategy was only missing the "environmental permit".
Hundreds of specialists that have provided thorough argumentation in a well written document, and nowadays some politicians are trashing all that effort. It is extremely dangerous to nominate specific objectives in the strategy (the Tarnița hydroelectric plant, the reactors number 3 and 4 of Cernavodă etc.).
That kind of strategy, in my opinion, should first of all indicate all the avenues of action, to be visionary, not to be restricted through the nomination of some goals. The only thin that's missing is to mention who is going to make them.
I have a feeling we won't have a strategy passed this year or if it is assumed in the announced form, it will only be a collection of projects without much strategic value.
Reporter: What will be the main effects of the increase of the energy price on the Day-Ahead Market (PZU)? Can we claim there is a manipulation of the price of energy happening on the PZU?
Lucian Bode: We have once again witnessed this summer, after that winter episode, a staggering price increase on the PZU. It didn't take long for reactions to appear, most statements of the officials were oficialilor au fost de calmare, but with no solid analysis being presented. I think that the effects will be visible in the winter, in the energy bills. The increase of the price of electricity is unavoidable, no matter how much the government tries to spin it otherwise.
As for a potential market manipulation, the Government holds control of over 80% of the output capacities of the electricity market. Therefore, it is the government itself, through the Ministry of Energy that needs to answer this allegation making the rounds in the market. The Competition Council has begun an investigation on the subject, we await the conclusions as quickly as possible. We hope it won't be just a maneuver to bury a matter that will have significant effects on the population and not only, which can happen again in the coming winter.
Reporter: What is your opinion on the intention to only conduct trading of natural gas on the OPCOM and eliminating the Romanian Commodities Exchange (BRM) from this process?
Lucian Bode: It would be a big mistake. In this particular case the discussion needs to be conducted in terms of benefits versus disadvantages. Do we want a competitive, transparent market, or one that is like a monopoly, easy to control? I think that the balance needs to lean towards the first option.
Reporter: Will the energy market be influenced by the election of the management of the ANRE this autumn?
Lucian Bode: I hope not. We have a solid, stable ANRE, which has evolved a lot over the last few years. But the PSD, just like it has come to be expected from them, will try to impose its control over that institution which needs to stay outside the political game. It would be a big mistake for the ANRE to become the battleground of the political interests of the PSD. If they do that, we will see an institutional step backwards with a negative impact on the energy market.
Reporter: Why do you think that the authorities are dragging their feet on the issue of royalties?
Lucian Bode: No arguments have been provided for the postponement of a decision on that matter, because this government is now in a state of constant "confusion", and not just on this particular issue. From the beginning of the year they've been doing fiscal experiments.
I hope the government won't use the new fiscal regime of royalties as an instrument of intimidation against hydrocarbon producers, in response to the announced increases in the price of fuel. At any rate, the lack of any legal framework generates major unpredictability in this sector.
Reporter: Thank you!
Recorded by ANCUȚA STANCIU (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)