EBRD Names Regional Heads
The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development has appointed Mark Davis as its regional director for two of the European Union's more opaquely-governed countries: Romania and Bulgaria. He will assume his new role in Bucharest on April 1, succeeding Matteo Patrone who has become the bank's managing director for eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
In his new position Davis will lead EBRD operations in the two countries and help boost their economies through investment, advice and support for support for reforms.
Some will say reform is needed after the Romanian government introduced laws last year without the normal consultation process with stakeholders. In early January the European Federation of Energy Traders called for one of them to be suspended. It said it would lead "to an unprecedented increase in turnover fees (by no less than by 2000%) for companies holding licences in the electricity sector." It would also stop new entrants.
And gas producers have deferred investment decisions in the upstream owing to higher taxes, following a law introduced without warning in the summer of last year. This was later compounded by plans to cap prices downstream.
Less than a year earlier, in November 2017 the EBRD had became a minority investor in one upstream project operated by Black Sea Oil & Gas, which Patrone said was a "landmark equity transaction would support the development of the private upstream oil and gas company in Romania. We are also committed to providing assistance to the Romanian government in further improving the country’s legal and regulatory framework for offshore oil and gas operations and building regulatory capacity for the whole industry."
And late last year the European Commission fined Bulgaria €77mn ($87mn) for obsructing gas market access, although state Bulgarian Energy Holdings said that not only was the fine excessive but that "the alleged behavior concerns a period far away in the past that has been a transition for the Bulgarian energy market after Bulgaria's accession to the European Union."
It said the company and its subsidiaries "continue to believe that access to the Bulgarian transmission network and to the gas storage facility has always been carried out in accordance with the applicable laws. Also, the granting of access to the Romanian transit gas pipeline has never been under the control of either BEH or any of its subsidiaries."
The EBRD has also appointed Catarina Bjorlin Hansen as its regional director for the Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan and will assume her new role in Tbilisi April 1. She replaces Bruno Balvanera who has been named EBRD managing director for central Asia. She said the region was “strategically important" with huge potential for further development, for which a key requirement will be its further integration into the global economy.