What is your assessment of Expo 2017 in Astana?
Expo 2017 was a significant event not only in Kazakhstan, but also across the world. The first such high-level event in the history of modern Kazakhstan, the theme of Expo 2017 was “Future Energy." Considering large-scale problems such as global warming, climate change, energy shortages, pollution, and so on, Expo 2017 managed to fully and objectively describe the global situation and stimulate the necessary interest in this field. Having a multiplicative effect, the event ensured the qualitative promotion of “Future Energy" in general and clean energy sources in particular. Great work has been done, and Kazakhstan has proven its ability to host such high-profile events. During the event, 105 projects were allocated to the 23 pavilions representing various countries. For this purpose we created an expert working group composed of representatives of domestic companies, experts in various industries, as well as representatives of the ministry. In the course of monitoring areas such as electricity, atomic energy, the environment, and oil and gas, the working group concluded that Kazakhstan has sufficient technological and commercial potential to implement such projects.
What were some of its outcomes?
The private sector as well as regional akimats (districts) are working intensively on selecting particular projects and establishing connections to realize them. Second, it was a truly historic event for the Kazakhstani science and energy spheres and a big step in the development of the former in particular. Under the auspices of Expo 2017 we had the unique opportunity to consolidate the work of more than 1,000 prominent scientists and engineers representing 51 countries. Thirdly, the Ministry of Energy conducted a study, “Foresight-2050," which was the most credible of its kind in the field of energy in 2017. It includes the description of trends that affect the structure of the world's power consumption and the emergence of new energy sources and consumers. One of the important objectives of the study is not only to determine the direction of these qualitative changes, but also to estimate their size and contribute to the implementation of the chosen strategy. The research suggests a change in the role of traditional energy, which indicates that alternative sources will play a significant role in providing for growing demand. Finally, all exhibitions are a platform for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and concluding related contracts. In this sense, the Expo witnessed the signing of a number of agreements that today enable the financing of renewable energy projects. These include an MoU between the Ministry of Energy and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on cooperation and support for renewable energy development in Kazakhstan under which the EBRD plans to invest up to EUR200 million in renewable projects and attract private investment from other international financial institutions of up to EUR480 million; an MoU to implement renewable energy projects between the Ministry of Energy and companies such as Eni international and General Electric that will encourage international technologies to create wind power stations with a capacity of 50MW; and an agreement of intent between the Development Bank of Kazakhstan (DBK), CAPEC Green Energy, and a subsidiary of DBK, DBK-Leasing, on provisions to finance the first complex of a wind farm construction project with a capacity of 100MW.
How important is Kazakhstan's growing role in the energy sector?
In December 2016 Kazakhstan joined the OPEC+ agreement on the reduction of oil extraction. We pledged to cut production by 20,000bpd from 1.7 million bpd to 1.68 million bpd. The signing of this agreement was timely and significantly influenced the growth of oil prices and allowed it to reach USD60 per barrel, which positively impacted the economies of oil-exporting countries, including Kazakhstan.