Romanian Energy Awards 2016 - Cream of the crop in energy
After more than a month of intricate deliberation process conducted by a prominent jury, The Diplomat - Bucharest celebrated the winners of 20 assigned categories for both conventional and renewable energy, within a prestigious event continuing the annual tradition of acknowledgment of performance and exceptional accomplishments in the Romanian energy sector.
By Bogdan Tudorache
The fifth edition of the Romanian Energy Awards took place on May 12, at Bucharest′s Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel, bringing together the who′s who in the energy and natural resources sector in Romania.
The Awards Gala organized by The Diplomat - Bucharest is an elite event and platform to recognize, reward and celebrate the success of the most prominent firms acting in the energy and natural resources field in Romania.
Based on rigorously-researched information and a judging panel formed of prominent names in business, government and academic society, the event established itself as a must-attend in the Romanian energy events calendar.
The Romanian Energy Awards categories recognize the outstanding success of firms, organisations and individuals in special projects and areas of business as well as overall involvement in the development of the country′s business climate. This is a high-profile event, attended by the most important representatives from the Romanian government, senior figures from Romania′s business and civil society and the energy and natural resources sector community at top levels.
The fifth edition of the Awards also marks an anniversary moment for The Diplomat - Bucharest, celebrating 11 years of journalism and business events in the Romanian market. In order to support the performance celebration in the energy sector in Romania, the organizers brought to the festivity event′s table the yearly edition of the Romanian Energy and Resources Overview 2016, including a summary of the main events, projects, legal and fiscal updates defining the energy sector in Romania at this moment.
Continuing each year′s tradition, the 2016 Awards brought together the who′s who of the Romanian energy sector and the Gala was attended by more than 150 top managers and influencers on the local energy market, representing leading companies, providers and distributors, government officials and regulatory authorities.
Also, the event enjoyed a significant presence of partners, such as gold partners Veolia and BCR Pensii, partners Adrem Invest (ABBC), BCR, EximBank, Recolamp, Biroul de Traduceri Champollion, Aqua Carpatica, Domeniile Samburesti, and with the participation of CEZ Group, Ernst&Young, Intrarom, Romgaz and Transgaz.
An important support was offered by the Competition Council, The Association of Electricity Suppliers in Romania (AFEER), Romanian Association for Promoting Energy Efficiency (ARPEE), Romanian National Committee of CIGRE, Association of Companies for Energy Utilities (ACUE), COGEN Romania, Romanian Energy Centre - CRE and World Energy Council.
The best managers, practices and projects were awarded within 20 categories by the judging panel, formed of nine prominent names in the energy field, companies and authorities: Iulian Iancu, Committee for Industries and Services - chairperson, Chamber of Deputies; Alexandru Valeriu Binig, partner, EY; Elena Popescu, general director of the Energy and Environment Direction, Ministry of Energy and SMEs; Bogdan Marius Chiritoiu, president of the Romanian Competition Council; Niculae Havrilet, president, ANRE, Virgil Musatescu, professor, doctor engineer, Technical University of Bucharest and Aristotel Jude, state secretary, Ministry of Energy.
The event′s opening speech was given by Corina Popescu, state secretary in the Ministry of Energy, who warmly opened the celebration event.
"I am honoured to open this fifth edition of the Romanian Energy Awards 2016 event, I'm glad we also have the chance to speak about the beautiful things happening in the electricity segment. 2015 was a year with a lot of changes, that announced prior to the Paris meeting, a legislation package to be adopted this year. In February the winter package was adopted, bringing in a lot of changes for the sector- so a year full of challenges for everybody. We thank the host - The Diplomat - which has gotten us used to a such a high-level annual event," said Popescu.
Energy Deal of the Year - A huge merger
The prize session was opened with the first award category, for the Energy Deal of the Year, where four nominees competed for the category title: Carlyle Group for the Sterling Resources takeover, ENGIE Romania, for the integration of Congaz, General electric and Alstom, for the biggest merger in the global energy sector, with consequences in Romanian market, Monsson Group for the Qatar desalination deal and Transeastern Power Trust, for the two solar parks it bought.
The award recognizes a project including a set of activities that had an impact on the energy sector and/ or the energy business community.
The award for the category was presented by Valeriu Binig, who said:
"We, the jury, are called to defend our choice. The winner represents what some may see as a merger and others an acquisition, but it is a joining of expertise and capabilities, that together lead to 230 years of experience. We talk about two suppliers of technology and expertise that dominated the Romanian energy sector in the past 25 years, and which now form a global company that has the pride to call itself the Global Industrial Digital Company. We award today the acquisition by GE of Alstom."
The prize was received by Adriana Mircea, Market Development manager, GE.
"By this acquisition, we bring together 230 years of experience more than 300,000 employees in 175 countries, and by this portfolio expansion we can only better serve the energy field," she said.
Energy Financing Award - Acknowledgment of a huge syndication
This category had several syndication groups and banks as nominees: BCR as a lead arranger in the KMG deal, in which it worked together with ING, Raiffeisen and UniCredit for the 360 million USD facility.
Also the CEZ Distributie deal worth 154 million Euro was represented in this category by EBRD, ING, Citi and Societe Generale, that joined in the syndication for the loan.
OMV Petrom was the winner, though, for the sheer size of the one billion Euro syndicated loan from BRD, SocGen and UniCredit which took in more than 100 million Euro each inside consortium of 17 banks.
Veolia Romania's president Frederic Faroche presented the prize, congratulating the nominees. The recipients were Lucian Ghinescu, UniCredit and Grigore Pana, Corporate & Investment Banking director, BRD Groupe Societe Generale.
"The deal represents a landmark as an amount - one billion Euro - and even the tenure was special for the Romanian market," said Pana.
Energy Law Firm of the Year - Advising with energy
This category comprised four nominees, all with notable legal consultancy projects in the energy sector: Clifford Chance Badea, PeliFilip, Schoenherr and Wolf Theiss. Diana Moldovan, chief of staff in the Energy ministry presented the award. "The prize goes to PeliFilip for creativity and innovation," said Moldovan.
Alina Stancu Birsan, partner, PeliFilip, received the prize. Over the years, Clifford Chance Badea has built a reputation as leading law firm in Energy & Resources, with a strong track record in all practice areas. Ranked as a Tier 2 firm by IFLR1000 Energy & Infrastructure 2015, its most recent portfolio includes significant finance and litigation work.
The firm has assisted a bank consortium led by BRD Groupe Société Générale S.A. as Agent and Arranger, the consortium also including Banca Romaneasca and Bancpost, as well as Allianz Tiriac Insurance and Groupama Insurance, related to a syndicated loan facility and issuing of warranty bonds to be used by Energomontaj to finance its activities and projects.
Energy Manager of the Year - Overcoming all
One of the most reputed categories, the title of Energy Manager of the Year was targeted by Carmen Neagu, former manager of Transelectrica, now general manager of EnergoBit, Daniela Lulache, general manager of Nuclearelectrica, Eric Stab, general manager of ENGIE Romania and Kinga Daradics, general manager of Mol Romania. The prize was presented by Corina Popescu, and the winner was Eric Stab.
"This year the prize goes to someone that has international experience, a fine connoisseur of the gas and energy sector in Romania, and who succeeded in rebranding the company he represents," said Popescu, presenting the award to Eric Stab.
"I would like to thank the jury. I'm deeply honoured to get the prize, and I would like to thank The Diplomat which I love to read every time. I feel a little bit guilty tonight, winning this prize over three ladies nominated besides me, but I would like to dedicate this prize to the employees of ENGIE Romania, who, in the past 10-11 years have gone through many changes and transformations, demonstrating that they are very adaptable and trying to do the best for the customers," says Stab, who explained that he is in Romania for six years now.
Energy Initiative of the Year - An entrepreneurial match
This category enjoyed a large spectrum of initiatives in the energy sector, delivered by institutions, companies and associations such as: CEZ Romania, ENGIE Romania and University of Stefan cel Mare of Suceava. Radu Craciun, CEO of BCR Pensii, presented the winner.
"We prize initiative, and in the energy field the initiatives can only be over the longer term. And all that is a long-term vision and initiatives follows the investments in the energy field. We hope to invest more in the energy field, with our pension funds, and we also have a long term vision of the services we offer with the private pensions. The general reaction in the market is that private pensions are not a priority for the investors in the market, but neither are the electric car charging stations...nevertheless, they are built," said Craciun, explaining that firms that anticipate the needs of the employees are the future leaders.
"The company that won the prize, also constructed electric stations for customers in Pitesti and Craiova, and also bought electric cars. The winner is CEZ Romania," said Craciun.
On CEZ's behalf, the prize was received by Doina Vornicu, executive director and member of the Directorate, CEZ Romania.
"The CEZ team deserves this prize, to whom I am dedicating it. We thank them for this honour it brought us and we will go forward, not stopping here," said Vornicu.
Energy Personality of the Year - Pursuing balanced goals
A category with prominent names on its listing, such as: Corneliu Bodea of Adrem Invest (ABBC), Kinga Daradics and Niculae Havrilet.
The prize was again presented by Corina Popescu.
"The year 2015 was marked by a balance, and for the jury, offering this prize was very hard, but we offered it to the person who maintained that balance: none other than Niculae Havrilet, President of ANRE," she said.
While Havrilet received the prize, he said: "What a big surprise! I would like to mention it is the team's prize, and I would like to mention three very important managers - Maria Minecuta, Marian Cernat and Alina Tache. It is all about the process of liberalisation of the natural gas, gas price and electricity price. 2015 was the first year of inflexion in the consumer's advantage. If 2012-14 were the first years that the price grew, so as we'd achieve the market price - which was a bit larger than the regulated one - starting in 2015 the new dawn and fruits appeared: energy and gas price decreases, which makes us think that liberalisation can end as soon as possible."
He also said that he would have expected to be a contested personality. "A regulator is a referee that cannot make everybody happy. It would be idealistic to think someone can satisfy everybody. Satisfying only parts of the market would mean discriminating, one might think. We therefore, expect everybody to be against the regulator- which happened many times- but makes us think we made the right decisions".
The Association / NGO of the year in energy - Helping the market stay fit
There are several associations in the market, and this award recognizes the achievements of an association or non-profit organization (NGO) whose activities have had a positive impact on the energy sector. The nominees were: AFEER - The Romanian Association of Electricity Suppliers - celebrating soon ten years of successful activity within the energy market; ARPEE- The Romanian Association for Promoting the Energy Efficiency; CRE - Romanian Energy Council; ESCOROM-Energy Services Company Association for Romania, founded in 2013 and officially launched in March 2016, has seven members active in the ESCO industry, involved in design, execution works, equipment supply, operation and maintenance and also in EPC financing; PATRES - The association of renewables comprising mostly Romanian-capital companies, a Renewable Energy Employers′ Association established by 91 E-RES producers, representing approximately 800 MW; and RWEA - Romanian Wind Energy Association, founded in 2008 as a professional organization of the wind energy industry players. Its role is to promote wind energy and its contribution into Romania's energy mix and to protect the industry needs.
Niculae Havrilet offered the prize, and the winner was AFEER, as the power market is the most developed.
"The robot portrait of the association that may win this prize is as follows: energy field, power- as it is in a mature, liquid market, with an advance in applying the Package III for energy, which Romania is leading in the region. And looking at the electricity, we can refer to suppliers, the most developed segment, so there's a suppliers' association. As we have just eight companies in distribution, in supplying there are many hundreds, and therefore it can only be the AFEER. And if it's AFEER, we can only speak about its leader, Ioan Lungu," said Havrilet.
Receiving the prize, Ioan Lungu thanked the jury and The Diplomat. "It is not easy to form such an association where all the members are competitors among themselves, and please have this in mind. We have 48 members that each time try to harmonise their opinions and to form a valid proposal for the regulatory body and authorities," said Lungu.
The Excellence Award for the Entire Career - Celebrating commitment and great passion
This award was presented to University professor, PhD Napoleon Antonescu, for his entire career. "I don't want to speak about me, what I want to say is that I am 100 per cent a product of the Romanian oil and gas industry and of its education," he said. Professor Antonescu is the Honorary Rector of the Oil and Gas University of Ploiesti and develops a continuous and remarkable activity related to the scientific research, design, technological and innovation development in the oil and gas industry.
Professor Antonescu had noteworthy achievements in over 150 national and international scientific research works and contracts (Eureka, Tempus, PHARE, WB). He was chairman, member and convener in over 40 scientific events, author and co-author of 12 books and of over 150 articles published in the country and abroad, 130 papers presented in conferences, congresses and symposia and is the author of 13 invention patents.
"I had activated in the University of Oil and Gas, an exceptional university with teachers known all over the world, and with performances well known globally," Antonescu added.
Energy Storage Initiative of the Year - Breathing innovation
The most innovative prize may be considered the Storage Initiative, which prizes efficiency in innovation.
"We focus on the attempt to stock electricity, which we know is hard to do, and in school they've told us it is impossible... and that's why we award the first efforts in this regard," said Valeriu Binig, while presenting the prize.
First efforts in storage are not covered by the recently adopted Energy Law, and therefore such endeavours must be encouraged. "The future belongs to this type of decentralized solution of energy storage, plus green sources...
"The prize is acknowledging Romania's need to fix the balance of the primary energy sources from wind via storage.
"And the winner is ENGIE Romania," said Binig.
"We speak about a project that is not completed yet. A project on battery storage in our wind farm in Gemenele, Braila. Energy storage is the new frontier for the energy sector. The new El Dorado for some. There is still a lot to do in terms of innovation and research in this area, but it could well be a game-changer in the energy sector in the future," said Eric Stab, after receiving the prize.
Even if the project is not finalized, the award is taken as a directive to continue, Stab explained.
Recolamp special Award - Most Responsible Company of the Year on Recycling Lighting Waste
As Recolamp's marketing manager Roxana Sunica presented the prize winner, she also presented the NGO's collection performances: Last year Recolamp collected 650 tons of used lighting equipment, most coming from companies, while the population lags behind. Most of the collectors' centres are placed in retail stores, and last year the 67-stores award winner, Kaufland Romania, collected more than 6,800 kg of used lighting items.
"As today is May 12, tomorrow I will propose to our management of the board to Kaufland Romania to declare this day the Environment Day for our company. Recently we have also invested into a fleet of 18 electric cars, and we are developing, together with a partner, electricity charging stations for these cars on the Arad-Constanta axis, and as CEZ did, we will also offer the power free of charge," said Valer Hancas, manager, Corporate Affairs & Communications Kaufland Romania, while accepting the prize.
"We also build right now partial eco stores, with a performant technology that will allow us to save energy up to the level of 3,000 households a year. And our 2020 proposal is to open a totally-eco store, energy independent," Hancas added.
Oil and Gas Company of the Year - Expansion and 15 years in the market
Defined by multinational giants or companies with international and notable projects, this category included names such as MOL Romania, Oscar Downstream and Romgaz.
Corina Popescu presented the prize, which was won by Oscar Downstream.
The company invested in storage solutions and started four greenfield projects from scratch.
The most important part of the planned investment worth 25 million Euro for a period of three years is the modernization of already-existing warehouses and building from the ground up of another four warehouses of "Greenfield" type, to reach a total own storage capacity of 50,000 cubic meters in 2016 respecting the highest standards in the industry.
Nicoleta Musat, CFO, received the award, also mentioning that Oscar Downstream has reached its 15th year of activity.
Oil and Gas Project of the Year - A pipeline with protection objectives
This category enjoyed a line-up of several well-known projects, such as Lukoil Romania, MOL Romania and SNTGN Transgaz.
"2015 represented for our winner, through the project it developed, the possibility to gain 15 per cent of the Romanian fuel markets," explains Corina Popescu, while announcing the prize winner: MOL Romania.
MOL absorbed the Agip fuel station network into its own and rose its market share to an estimated 15 per cent, after acquiring 42 gas stations from ENI. It reaches now more than 206 fuel stations and it won't stop there.
Cristian Ungureanu, CFO of MOL Romania, received the award. "In 2015 we finalized the takeover of a competitor's network, which we succeeded in integrating into our own. We have seen since then growth of sales of 17 per cent last year and of 20 per cent in the first quarter of this year. We believe in the Romanian market and we're set to respect our local growth strategy," Ungureanu said.
Electricity Generation Company of the Year - A company with an innovative approach
This category comprised well-known companies with significant history in the Romanian energy sector, such as E.ON Romania, ENGIE Romania, Hidroelectrica and Nuclearelectrica. The power generation raised issues from the jury. "We made statistics: degree of usage of the installed capacity since inception, and we have a world champion: Nuclearelectrica," said presenter Valeriu Binig.
"Thanks a lot. We did not expect anybody to finally understand, hear and acknowledge us as world champions in this country. Yes, we are proud of being world champions, and you won't believe it- but we did it while growing the profit as well," said Daniela Lulache, CEO of Nuclearelectrica.
"Thanks to The Diplomat; you are really doing your job if you succeeded transmitting this info, and I'm thanking the jury, which looked so carefully towards us and thanks to Nuclearelectrica - it is a performance translated into a sustained activity from the project start; we have to thank the people involved since then," said Lulache.
Electricity Generation Project of the Year - A company with an innovative approach
This category comprised well-known nominees: Electrica and Raffles Energy. This award recognizes an electricity generation sector project that has been planned and executed with excellence, delivering significant benefits to both stakeholders and community. The winner, Raffles Energy, was announced by Virgil Musatescu, member of the jury and one of the most reputed teachers of the Polytechnic institute of Bucharest. "The company developed a very interesting technology. It made a power plant developed also on depleted gas fields. These marginal fields could not be linked into Transgaz' network, so another method of monetizing them was found: by the winner, Raffles Energy," said Musatescu.
CEO Doru Morariu said that Raffles' good result is drawn from its partnership with Romgaz.
"We developed two projects by setting up accumulations for gas fields that could not have been otherwise used classically," said Morariu.
Renewable Energy Company of the Year - The Czech approach
The competition in this category was tight, being represented by highly-reputed names in green energy, such as: CEZ Wind Farm, Enel Green Power and Monsson.
While badly hit by the subsidies' cutback, the renewable investors saw banks reluctant to finance their newest endeavours. Entrepreneurship became paramount, and relying on a local market is no longer an option for the services providers.
"We awarded a global champion, and now we're offering another award to a European champion. A European project of 234 turbines, working at full power at 2,5 MW. A wind park producing 2.08 per cent of the national electricity output: CEZ Romania," said Valeriu Binig.
Doina Vornicu, operations manager of CEZ Romania, received the prize.
"This is second time on stage for us. 2015 was a special year for us, as we reached ten years in the local market. We had the largest production in the renewable park's history," she said.
Renewable Energy Project of the Year - Desalination in the spotlight
Continuing the awarding for the renewable sector, this category saw a prize for a project done abroad.
A desalination station for sea water, combined with a photovoltaic unit. "We have to keep up the flag of innovation in renewables," said Valeriu Binig, while announcing the winner - Monsson Group. It officially launched in March, in Qatar, the company's pilot project and the first of its kind in the region, the Reverse Osmosis Water Desalination Plant powered by renewable energy. The project aims at the design and implementation of an efficient, cost effective photovoltaic powered stagnant and saline groundwater small scale reverse-osmosis (PV-RO) desalinating unit and it has the capability of supplying fresh water for drinking and crops irrigation in small and medium-size farms. It is also designed to operate in deserts' very harsh weather conditions, with or without connection to the local or national grid.
"We are dedicated to renewables, and if for the moment we stopped projects in Romania, we hope to take them forward next year, here also. Renewables are a solution for the future, and we succeeded in our first desalination station exclusively done with renewable sources," said Sebastian Enache, business development manager of Monsson Group.
Technology Provider of the Year - Romanian innovation at its best
Energy is generally defined by resources, human capital, molecules, atoms and technology. That is why a major category of the Gala Awards focuses on the technology, brought by the nominated companies AEM, Elsaco, Greentek LED Lighting and SAS Romania. The winner was announced by Professor Musatescu: Greentek LED Lighting.
The producer and provider of LED lighting systems, designed and implemented the intelligent lighting project for the office spaces in AFI Park 2, which became the first building in Romania to be exclusively equipped with an intelligent LED lighting system. For the office spaces in AFI Park 2, Greentek offered a solution at the cutting edge with the latest LED lamps, as well as software for the intelligent management of lighting. This custom-made system recognizes the decrease in intensity of the natural light and commands the increase in the intensity of LED lighting.
"I am very sensitive when it comes to energy efficiency: it is the path for the future. Members of the jury have been very interested in the technology that succeeds in accomplishing many things in this regard," said Musatescu. The energy that is saved by using this technology goes up to 70 per cent, while the financial costs of the building are dropping by 100,000 Euro annually.
"I am an adept of technologies developed in Romania. I believe in the concept of ′proudly made in Romania,′ and I believe Romania can develop intelligent concepts and solutions and that the Romanian schools can give us resources to make that here, showing to European and overseas markets that we can become a serious supplier with most innovative solutions," said Victor Cotrutz, CEO and founder of Greentek.
Energy Services Company of the Year - Mentality bending accomplishment
This category welcomed nominated companies such as: CEZ Romania, Elsaco, Luxten, Optim Project Management and Veolia Energie Iasi.
"The ESCOs are those companies helping to save energy and money. They can be elements of driving forward technology and implementing interesting and efficient projects. Of these five nominees each realized interesting projects, but the jury focused on one of them due to an extra argument: we did not hear up to now of accomplishments in thermal energy. The winner is, therefore, a company that succeeded a rare objective: rehabilitation of the idea of using a centralized heating system, in a large city, increasing both the efficiency of the old system and the re-integration of the old clients back into it as well as new clients - a rare thing in this field - while also cutting losses," said professor Musatescu, while announcing the winner: Veolia.
Ana Maria Icatoiu, Commercial and Communication director and Alexandru Teleru, General Director Veolia Energie Iasi, were handed the prize.
"We hope that in the future this contest will see many other thermal energy players as nominees," said Dogaru, while thanking for the prize.
"We are convinced that we will succeed proving together that a centralized thermal system, efficiently managed, based on a correct partnership with the local authority and with a performance contract that puts the clients of the system first, represents the optimum solution for the future supply of large cities in Romania," said Icatoiu.
Also, she dedicated the prize to the late Professor Aureliu Lecca, who encouraged this project.
Energy Efficiency Program of the Year - Efficient CSR
This category was represented by nominees: E.ON and Engie Romania.
"The choice was tough, as we discovered many laudable initiatives. We offered a prize to a project called ′Energy for the Schools of Childhood', which offered to Moldovan and Transylvanian schools about 600,000 Euro to 7,000 beneficiaries," said the jury member, Valeriu Binig, announcing the winner: E.ON Romania.
While in a management meeting in Covasna, Frank Hajdinjak, CEO of E.ON Romania, accepted the award via a conference video call.
Energy Company of the Year - Combining gas and power under one roof
This award recognizes a project, including either a set of activities that had an impact on the energy sector and/ or the energy business community, a grand summary of all achievements and key performance indicators in this field. The category was populated by names such as E.ON Romania, MOL Romania, Romgaz and Nuclearelectrica S.A.
"The list of nominees could have been longer. We chose sending a message to the market. We are in a moment where large companies are integrating services and markets. We are offering this prize to a company that brought together gas and power supplying and distribution into a single company: E.ON Romania," said Binig, while presenting the prize.
"Two prizes in one evening! That is special and I will tell all my colleagues here about them," said recipient Frank Hajdinjak.
The fifth edition of the Romanian Energy Awards enjoyed a significant presence of managers in energy, representing the largest companies and projects, both Romanian-based and international, covering all energy fields, from conventional to renewable energy. Structured so that it mirrors all the accomplishments during the year, the event continues the series of Gala Awards developed by The Diplomat - Bucharest for the strategic industry fields in Romania, as a professional and useful platform for the decision-makers and key leaders in the Romanian economy. The Diplomat - Bucharest team sends the warmest thanks to all who have contributed to the success of the event, assigning time, resources and good will and invites you to the next year′s edition of the Romanian Energy Awards.