U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm’s Remarks at the Aspen Energy Summit
Centrul de Afaceri Multifuncţional Lumina Verde, Ploieşti
Thank you, Ambassador.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mircea Geoana has had many positions of great distinction in his life and career but I hope you don’t mind that I use Ambassador as a title because I think it’s fitting as we recognize the 20th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership because at its founding, Ambassador Geoana was Romania’s envoy to the United States. And thank you for mentioning the history of American-Romanian ties through the oil industry here, that’s exactly correct. Rafinăria Româno-Americană with an important stake by Standard Oil was indeed begun in 1857, a long, long time ago.
The history of American presence in the Romanian energy sector, and particularly in petroleum and oil and gas has had both happy moments, but then also sad and actually tragic moments. Of course, much of the American presence here was if not nationalized, at least came under the control of essentially German interests prior to and during World War II. After the end of World War II, Standard Oil tried to come back and secure its investment in Romania but eventually failed to do so; it was confiscated and nationalized by the series of governments after World War II.
Recently I read a diary of one of my predecessors, the gentleman who was the American representative to the Allied Control Commission made up of Russian, British, and American representatives that represented the Allies here in Romania in the period of 1944-1947. A great deal of his work, his energy was spent on trying to either secure Standard Oil’s facilities here in Ploiesti or receive compensations for all of the material and equipment that was seized and then shipped to the Soviet Union following the conclusion of hostilities during World War II.
And of course, Ploiesti was also the target of American bombers that tried to knock out the Romanian oil industry during its alliance with Nazi Germany. American fighters launched their planes from Benghazi, Libya, so when you think about the historical resonances, bad historical resonances, it’s really something. And German anti-aircraft systems were very effective; many American planes were shot down over the skies of Ploiesti and many American fighters, American pilots lost their lives,. There is a small memorial to those Americans who lost their lives over Romania in Kiseleff Park, in Bucharest, and there were about 1,000 American POWs held in Romanian military POW camps at the end of World War II. And there is also a very fascinating story about how their release was secured as the Soviet armies were coming into Romania.
So, here in Ploiesti, around the energy industry, there is a very, very deep well of American-Romanian history and I am very, very honored to be here to build on that history. Today, this energy collaboration involves a range of players, large, medium, upstream, downstream, exploration, production, on-shore, off-shore, equipment and service providers and American companies who are trying to introduce new technologies into the energy sector in Romania. American investment has been diverse and extensive. There are equipment manufacturers such as General Electric whose oilfield equipment manufacturing facility is located here in Ploiesti; Timken, who’s a great dealer, production also goes into oil field equipment, is located here in Ploiesti; Cameron, which is right around the corner, which has been using Romania as a manufacturing and export base. They’re all here in Ploiesti. It gives me great pleasure that companies such as Amromco, Stratum, and Hunt Oil have invested to increase recovery from Romania’s mature on-shore fields. And of course Exxon-Mobil and Black Sea Oil and Gas are investing off-shore, major investments off-shore, looking to unlock the future of Romania’s oil and gas industries. These investments blend American capital and Romanian skilled labor and talent to advance this vital sector of the economy.
These efforts are all possible because of the choices Romania has made and our mutual commitment to economic prosperity. As Ambassador Geoana mentioned, this year the United States and Romania celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership. President Iohannis and President Trump agreed at their June 9 meeting in Washington to make the Strategic Partnership even stronger and the prospect for our future together is very positive.
While I am proud of the role that American investors are playing in developing Romania’s economic potential and energy security, such projects require commitment not only from the companies, but also from the Romanian government.
The investment needed to bring to market new reserves requires a business-friendly investment climate. Investors need predictability, stability, and transparency to guide their decisions. Good governance and rule of law provide the foundation for these key principles. A stable tax regime, adopted in consultation with stakeholders and after conducting regulatory impact assessments, provides another fundamental building block to incentivizing inbound investment.
As you all know, energy sits at the nexus of national security and economic prosperity, and access to affordable, reliable, and secure supplies of energy is a fundamental national security concern for every country around the world. As Secretary of Energy of the United States Rick Perry has said, “America is committed to ensuring universal access to affordable and reliable energy to promote economic growth and energy security.” The United States works with partners to address these concerns, which are fundamental components of U.S. national security. Part of our work includes engagement with major energy producers, consumers, transit states, and the private and public energy sectors to advocate for energy security.
Europe is a top priority for the United States. Many in the region view energy dependence as a national security threat and are actively working to diversify their energy mix. While Russian gas can and should remain a part of Europe’s energy mix, our priority is to minimize dependency on any one single supplier. True energy security can only be achieved, in our view, through the diversification of fuel types, supply sources, and delivery routes.
The Unites States thereby stands by Romania in its efforts to contribute to regional energy security through the development of interconnectors and diversification of fuels, routes, and sources. We support Romanian and European Commission efforts to promote infrastructure projects that better connect European countries to gas and electricity supplies. Projects such as the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria interconnector and (BRUHA) and the Iasi-Ungheni pipeline are key to accomplishing these goals and we encourage all the players to stay focused on regional energy security above short-term national interests.
While Europe is working to diversify its energy sector, it is also assessing projects that could undermine these efforts. The United States shares widespread European concern about Nord Stream 2 as well as Turkish Stream. We agree with many of our European partners that these projects will only reinforce Russian dominance of Europe’s gas market, reduce opportunities for diversification of energy sources, and advance Russia’s goal of undermining Ukraine by ending Ukraine’s role as a transit country for gas exports to Europe. In fact, we believe construction of Nord Stream 2 would concentrate over 70 percent of Russian gas imports to the EU through a single route, creating a potential chokepoint that would significantly increase Europe’s vulnerability to a supply disruption.
The energy sector plays a key role in security and prosperity, both those of Romania as well as the United States and we look forward to continued cooperation – government to government – and with the help of American companies to advance this vital sector. Thank you for your attention.