Participants in the forum, dubbed “The Future is Today – new possibilities for the industry” voted 68.4 percent in favour of a statement initiated by Dr Brilev and asking the question: “Can the oil and gas sector remain the driver of growth in an era of development of renewable energy resources?”
Those voting in favour included Yury Borisov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia responsible for fuel and energy issues. Also noteworthy was the even greater optimism shown in a repeat vote on the resolution at the end of the session – 72.4 percent said “yes”.
Participants also included Russia’s Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin, the director of the Gazprom Neft joint stock company Alexander Dyukov, the chairman of the board of the Sibur petrochemicals company, Dmitry Konov, the governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, Dmitry Artyukhov, the governor of Tyumen Region, Alexander Moor, as well as (online) Matt Rogers, senior partner in the U.S. firm McKinsey and Company and a former senior advisor to the secretary of energy.
Brilev reminded participants in the Siberian city that Airbus had just announced the development of a hydrogen propulsion aircraft.
“When you talk with people, including the guru of ‘Global Energy’, about ways of producing hydrogen, they will tell you the following: coal is being swept aside straight away and they give a nod on natural gas. Of course, this is subject to a question on whether the hydrogen will be produced in Russia and…will be exported, or whether we will continue to drill for natural gas and hydrogen will be produced from it abroad,” he told the gathering.
Brilev also spoke of new scenarios with renewable energy sources – considered little more than fantasies two years ago, but now seen as real possibilities.
“Of course, for the moment they are not completely stable, but nonetheless, prominent scientists tell me that the most promising way of producing hydrogen is by using renewable energy sources for electrolysis,” he said.
“Essentially, this amounts to taking energy out of thin air and producing hydrogen fuel from it. Based on this logic, you take a look at our traditional hydrocarbon sector and ask – what comes next? I will say straight away that I am no pessimist, but as a sort of provocative thought, I wanted to share some of the conversations I have had in the last two or three days with some of the more prominent thinkers both inside and outside Russia.”
He also spoke of the recently announced winners from among the latest nominations for the Global Energy Prize.
“Let me boast a little bit here. Last year we had 39 nominees – this time we had 78. Last year, they represented a dozen countries – now there were 20,” the Global Energy Association President said.
“There was truly a concerning situation last year, when of the three categories we were unable to award a prize in ‘traditional energy’. This year, we awarded that prize, there was a fine competition and the winner was Carlo Rubbia from Italy – also a Nobel prize winner.”
The two other winners were Peidong Yang from the United States (for Non-Conventional Energy) and Nikalaos Hatziargyriou from Greece (for New Ways of Energy Application).
Brilev also drew attention to a considerable problem which this year did not allow for the nomination of a Russian national for the Global Energy prize – the absence of publications in English.
“The period of Soviet-era academics is drawing to a close. This year not a single Russian academic from the middle generation was able to pass through the technical expertise funnelling process – and all nominations are submitted to three technical experts,” Brilev said. “And why is that? Because they had no publications in English. There simply were none. You have someone who is clearly an academic, but when you go to take a look, he isn’t there.”
He appealed to energy companies to speak to academics working in oil and gas research and to take a more active role in putting forward their nominations. And he pledged to look into offering assistance from the Global Energy Association in producing English-language scientific publications by opening discussions in different forums. The association’s Vice-President, Oleg Borisov, is to take on that task.
In response, Arkady Dvorkovich, chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, set up to help diversify the Russian economy, said the Foundation’s technical university was already dealing with the issue.
“As regards academics and English, Skolkovo and our technical university are in fact taking the lead in publications in English,” he told the gathering. “And the same thing is happening in many other Russian universities.”
He said the situation was similar at MISiS (the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow) and at the St Petersburg Mining University.
“A great deal of attention is being paid to this everywhere. It has to be done, it sets the tone and our academics will get prominence and recognition throughout the world. We have good development plans,” Dvorkovich said. Brilev and Dvorkovich agreed to continue the discussion of supporting Russian academics in terms of publications. Arkady Dvorkovich is a member of the Board of Trustees the Global Energy Association.