Russia to strengthen Balkan region's energy security
Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Alexander Vucic held talks in Belgrade, which both sides hope will give new impetus to already close bilateral relations. The key area of Russian-Serbian cooperation remains energy. According to the data cited by Putin, Russian natural gas exports to Serbia grew by 20% and reached 2.3 billion cubic meters. By 2022, Gazprom plans to increase Russian gas deliveries to Serbia to 3.5 billion cubic meters.
This year, a project will be launched to increase the capacity of the Banatski Dvor underground gas storage facility in Serbia from 450 million cubic metres to 750 million. Work will also continue to expand the Serbian gas transportation network. These measures will significantly improve the energy security of Serbia and the entire Balkan region. As the leading Russian investor in the Serbian energy sector, who invested about $3 billion in its subsidiary NIS Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS), Gazprom Neft is planning to invest another $1.4 billion by 2025. NIS is currently Serbia’s largest taxpayer and one of the leading oil and gas corporations in Eastern Europe.. Russia's company Power Machines helped Serbia modernise the Iron Gate I hydroelectric power station, and continues to partake in the reconstruction of other power stations in the country.
The realisation of joint plans in the sphere of peaceful use of nuclear energy reflected in the signed intergovernmental agreement would give an additional impetus to the growth of Serbia’s economy. It focuses on Serbia’s use of advanced Russian radiation technology in healthcare, industry, and agriculture. The company Russian Railways is making a significant contribution to the modernisation of Serbia’s railways. With the help of this Russian company, Serbia is creating an up-to-date single dispatch centre, which will significantly increase the crossing capacity of the country's transportation network.
Summing up the talks, Serbian Ambassador to Russia Slavenko Terzic noted that Moscow and Belgrade have tremendous opportunities for cooperation: "During the visit, 26 agreements were signed. For 11 months of last year, trade turnaround between our countries approached $3 billion. Serbia's imports from Russia includes not only oil and gas, but also cigarettes and some other products. Many agreements were signed during the visit of President Putin. The issues of the Banatski Dvor underground gas storage facility expansion - the agreement between Srbijagas and Gazprom top the agenda.
Terzic said the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline is an important issue: "There used to be South Stream, in which Serbia was very interested, but unfortunately it did not work out. At the moment, Turkish Stream seems very convenient for importing gas to Serbia. President Putin said during his visit that Russia will invest about $1.4 billion in infrastructure development to lay the stretch of this pipeline through Serbia."
"Many agreements were signed within the framework of digital technology development in Serbia. This is a new area of our cooperation. Peaceful nuclear development is also very important. The use of results achieved by Roscosmos is equally important," the ambassador stressed.
"As for science and culture, several agreements were signed between Serbian universities and Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas or St. Petersburg University,” Slavenko Terzic said. The understanding reached on the transfer of the 166th page of the Miroslav Gospel (the oldest Cyrillic monument of Serbian literature) stored in the Russian National Library to Serbia and on return of Nikolai Roerich's works to Russia was also important for the Russian-Serbian friendship. In short, we assess this visit as very successful, very rich, very fruitful. I believe that this visit of President Putin will be another impetus to the further development of our economic and especially technological, military-technical relations."