Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Chairman of the Board of Management of E.ON AG Wulf H. Bernotat
28 november 2008
Transcript of the start of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Bernotat, colleagues. I am very happy to see you in Moscow.
We have maintained fruitful cooperation with your company for many years. In general, Germany is one of our leading partners. I looked at some figures, and it appears that companies exporting their produce to Russia employ about 700,000 people. This is a major social and economic component of our relations with the Federal Republic. It is particularly important now, during the current financial crisis. It is also important that we have reliable, long-term, and stable relations with such companies as yours. Indeed, we are strategic partners in the full sense of the word.
Your company owns a big package of shares in Gazprom, and has been represented in its board of directors in the last few years. We have been jointly producing gas and transporting it to other European countries. Needless to say, this strengthens stability and reliability, and I would even say, mutual control of the situation in our economies, and in part, in this sector.
I am very pleased that we have good prospects for developing cooperation in energy, related industries, and on the markets of third countries.
So, we are very happy to see you here as our friends and partners. Welcome to Moscow. I hope that your visit will be useful and productive.
Wulf Bernotat (as translated): Mr Prime Minister, first of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to meet with you today. I would also like to emphasise that we fully agree with what you have just said.
Our concern E.ON AG and other companies have recently celebrated 35th anniversary of the start of Russian gas supplies to Germany. We are still your biggest gas customer. Our relations with Gazprom and Russia are stable, and have always been highly reliable.
We are not just your customers but also your partners. We are cooperating with Gazprom's in building Nordstream, a North European gas pipeline, which is vital for reliable gas supplies to Western Europe. Moreover, after very long talks with Mr Miller and his colleagues, it was decided that we would take part in developing the Yuzhno-Russkoye deposit, which is also important for our gas partnership. However, I don't think that our partnership with Gazprom in natural gas should be limited to these projects. Considering the prospects of our cooperation and the current situation, we are always ready to discuss cooperation on other projects.
For about a year, we have been Russia's partners in electricity generation. We spent substantial amounts of money in the course of our cooperation with RAO UES and its privatisation. We have bought a package of shares in OGK-4, one of the leading producers of electricity, and have made a commitment to invest into electricity generation. Today, we have not only started all the projects in which we guaranteed our participation but are also resolved to bring them to successful completion. It goes without saying that we need favourable conditions abroad.
Vladimir Putin (asked this question in German): How much have you invested into OGK-4?
Wulf Bernotat: 4.6 billion Euros. The liberalisation of the energy market was one of the major factors behind our decision to make serious investment in energy. We are being reassured that nothing has changed here, and that the intentions have remained the same. Needless to say, for us it is very important to know that all liberalisation plans will be carried out without fail in these difficult times.
As for the conditions I mentioned, it is also important to be aware of two facts. I am talking about our plans to build new capacities, which we are now carrying out. The first project is reliable supply of fuel, both natural gas and coal for an electric power station. Plus, there is one more problem. We should make sure that these capacities should not work just for themselves. They should be switched to the existing electric power grid to enable them to contribute to the generation of electricity for the Russian economy, and eventually to Russia's economic growth.
We are engaged in fruitful talks on this subject with Mr Sechin, Mr Shmatko, and our Gazprom colleagues. But Mr Prime Minister, we would also like to enlist political support, and your support on this issue.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Bernotat, the development of the energy industry is one of the key directions of our strategy. Naturally, now energy consumption is going down, here in this country, in Germany, and many other industrialised countries. I have just looked at the figures on the German iron industry, and watched a news conference conducted by ThyssenKrupp top managers. Energy consumption is also dropping there. This is taking place in all economies, but this will not last forever.
As you said, we should think about our prospects. Everything will right itself, and we should be ready for a new round of development. Moreover, today the implementation of our previous plans in energy and other spheres will make it possible to retain jobs. This means that we should build more grids. We will not curtail our plans in this sphere but will carry them out.
As for our gas cooperation, it is developing very well indeed. Today we have reached the level about which we merely talked a few years ago. It was decided at the complicated talks, that our German partners would cooperate with us in producing gas on Russian territory. We are partners in the project you have mentioned, Nordstream, on transporting gas to Europe. Gazprom has become a co-owner of the German transportation network. It goes without saying that this makes our partnership well-balanced all the way.