THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome, everyone, to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s briefing on the state of the energy situation in Europe, given the recent circumstances.
My name is Jake Goshert. I’m the moderator for this briefing. As a reminder, the briefing is on the record. We will post a transcript of the briefing on our website, which is fpc.state.gov. For journalists joining us on Zoom, please take a moment to rename yourself now in the chat window with your name, your outlet, and your country.
Our distinguished briefer today is Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. Following his opening remarks, I will open the floor to questions. But with those brief introductions, I’m going to turn it over to Deputy Secretary Turk.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well, thank you very much, Jake. And it’s a pleasure to be with you all, those who are here in person, and then I know we have a bunch of folks online as well. What I thought I’d might do just before opening it up – and happy to take any and all questions – is just give you a sense from the Department of Energy, from the U.S. Government, from my perspective of where we’re at with global energy – specifically focused on Europe, but I’ll talk broader than that – and what the U.S. Government strategy is. And I’ll try to do this in about five minutes or so just to make sure we have plenty of time for questions.
So when I think of where we’re at right now on energy, I like to think of us – not only in the U.S., but working with partners around the world – having to deal with three energy crises all at the same time. So the degree of difficulty here is large, which is why partnerships, true partnerships between the U.S. and countries around the world are so important.
One energy crisis is COVID. COVID is relenting; we’re getting beyond the worst of COVID. Not only did COVID have huge human misery and deaths around the world, but it also had big impacts on energy. It had big impacts on commodities like oil and natural gas, where we had demand go way down, supply then had to go down, supply went down, demand came roaring back, and supply did not meet up with demand. That’s why we had some upward price pressures, including on global oil markets, even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. COVID also threw out of whack a lot of supply chains, including for clean energy, all sorts of clean energy equipment and PVs, wind turbines, et cetera. And we’re dealing with some of the repercussions of that and trying to manage that part of it. So that’s one crisis.
Second crisis – and maybe this is the most dramatic of the energy crises from last year, and we’re still dealing with it, of course – is Russia’s unjustified and brutal invasion of Ukraine. That not only impacted energy very directly in terms of bombing for the electrical infrastructure in Ukraine, but it had huge impacts on energy, energy security, energy affordability, not just in Europe – and I think is important to underscore. The price pressure that this invasion of Ukraine caused, in addition to COVID, that upward price pressure, made a lot of countries – had a lot of difficulty for countries around the world. And I want to call out in particular developing countries around the world, those countries that are least able to afford increases in prices of oil and gas. Those are the countries that felt it the worst around the world. But we, of course, felt it in the U.S.; other countries felt it. And the U.S. Government has been trying to do a whole lot to try to deal with those supply disruptions, deal with those price issues on that front. So that’s the second crisis.
And then the third crisis, which has been a little longer in the making, is the climate crisis. And that is a crisis we need to deal with, just as we deal with other two crises. One nugget from last year – in the U.S. we certainly saw our share – and maybe then more so – of wildfires, droughts, other kinds of impacts of climate change. We’re already feeling that in the U.S., but we’re feeling it around the world as well. One nugget from there, just as a very tangible, stark example of what we’re talking about here in terms of climate change’s impact, is at one point last year a full two-thirds of Pakistan was underwater because of climate change. So we’ve seen huge impacts, including on energy caused by the climate crisis.
So what’s the U.S. strategy to deal with these three crises, not only last year but as we are in 2023 as well? So I like to think of this as a short-term, medium-term, long-term, walk and chew gum at the same time. I feel incredibly proud to be part of this administration, part of this Department of Energy in the U.S. Government dealing with some of the short-term challenges, especially with the Russia-Ukraine invasion. I personally spent a lot of time, a lot of my colleagues at the Department of Energy have spent a lot of time trying to help our Ukrainian colleagues and partners in this time of particular need.
I mentioned the bombing of the electrical infrastructure, the repeated bombing of electrical infrastructure in Ukraine. We at the Department of Energy, working with industry partners around the U.S., have now sent over three shipments – we’re just in the midst of a third shipment – of electrical equipment to help the Ukrainians build and rebuild and rebuild again their electrical infrastructure in Ukraine.
We have worked with partners around the world to release oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, through the International Energy Agency, with other countries in a time of supply disruption and real challenge last year, to make sure that there was some downward pressure in prices so that prices wouldn’t get too high – again, especially for countries that could least afford it, economies that could least afford it around the world.
And of course, we worked hand-in-hand with our colleagues, our partners in Europe at their particular time in need, especially with our liquefied natural gas, LNG, going over to Europe. But one thing I want to underscore is we know our natural gas, our LNG, doesn’t just go to Europe. It goes to Japan; it goes to Korea. It goes to other key countries and key partners around the world, and we want to make sure those supplies are available to those partners around the world.
So we’ve done a number of near-term, immediate things – trying to help work with partners, be true partners in this time of need – with Ukraine, with Europe, with broader allies and partners around the world.
At the same time, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and we need to deal with and accelerate the clean energy transition. The clean energy transition is not only needed to deal with the climate crisis, but we feel like, done right, it can be a stabilizing influence for energy security. It can have downward pressure and have energy accessibility and affordability around the world as well, whether we’re talking wind or solar, geothermal, battery storage, you name it, hydrogen, et cetera, et cetera along those lines.
So of course, last year was a historic year in terms of legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. The U.S. is investing like never before in our history in our clean energy transition, but we’re also working with allies and partners around the world to help them accelerate their clean energy transition. Again, not only what we need to do for the climate crisis, but good for energy security when done right, good for affordability, good for resilience of energy around the world as well.
One key area I’d like to point out, and that is to make sure that we’re working with allies around the world to bolster clean energy supply chains – critical minerals, but not just the mining piece, the manufacturing, the processing piece around the world – I had a trip last year where I went to a few African countries; I’ll go to Latin America here in a couple weeks – and working with partners, allies around the world so we have diversified energy supplies, critical mineral supplies, clean energy manufacturing opportunities in a range of countries. The economic opportunity is huge. President Biden has been very clear we want a lot of that economic opportunity in the U.S., but there’s opportunities for countries, for partners, for allies around the world to benefit from this huge, huge global clean energy transition that’s going on as well.
So let me leave it there, and happy to answer any and all questions.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you for those remarks, Deputy Secretary. Before we open it to questions, a few reminders. Journalists joining us on Zoom, please make sure your name is changed to your name, outlet, and nation, and then raise your hand using the “raise hand” icon if you have a question. And journalists in the room, if you do have a question, wait until you have the microphone. When you have the microphone, introduce yourself with your name and your outlet before asking your question.
We’ll start with questions from the room, and we’ll go here to Ukraine.
QUESTION: Hello, thank you very much. Dmytro Anopchenko, D.C. correspondent for Ukrainian television. Sir, I got two questions. Firstly, you mentioned already the short-term support to Ukraine, just to be able to get some equipment replace what has been damaged. But I’m more interested – Secretary Granholm told a couple of days ago that the ultimate goal – I’m quoting – is to help Ukraine to build a new war-proof distributive power grid. Is that a long-term goal or something maybe done during the war times?
And second, if I may, it’s extremely important to stop fighting around nuclear power plants. Do you support the idea that International Atomic Energy Agency might take Zaporizhzhia power plant under their control? Is there any cooperation or coordination with the United States or Department of State? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Great, thanks for the question. I’ll take them in turn. One, we are proud to help support our Ukrainian colleagues and partners in this time of immediate need, when their infrastructure is being literally blown up again and again – and not only the Department of Energy, but USAID, our State Department colleagues, in a unified all-of-government kind of approach.
As Secretary Granholm and others have been clear, we also want to support Ukraine for the long haul, including on their energy and electrical systems. So there are ways to do more decentralized generation, including using renewable resources that have some energy security, some resilience benefits associated with them as well. And we’ve also had really constructive conversations with the Ukrainian colleagues for the long haul as well, and their own aspirations to have a clean energy transition in their country, taking advantage of the resources that they have.
What’s really important here is it’s not the U.S. dictating to Ukraine what their energy system should look like in the future, it’s us including using our National Lab expertise – which we are using a few of our National Labs right now; we’re making that lab expertise available – to help our Ukrainian colleagues design their energy systems for the near term, the medium term, and the long term, thinking not only of energy security and resilience but affordability, taking advantage of Ukraine’s significant energy resources across the board, but also thinking of their clean energy transition.
And the commitment I’ve seen from our Ukrainian colleagues on all of those stages has been exemplary, and we’re happy to support that, and happy to get into any details if you’d like on that front.
And then on the question on the nuclear power plants in Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in particular but there are other power plants as well, unfortunately what we’ve seen is incredibly irresponsible behavior from the Russians. And it’s not just Zaporizhzhia; Zaporizhzhia’s very – an example of that, but it’s across the board as well. So the fact that the Russians did what they did with Zaporizhzhia, took over the plant, held the workers – the workers in Zaporizhzhia, the Ukrainian workers in Zaporizhzhia in real distress, and nationalizing Zaporizhzhia and all the other kinds of things they’re trying to do along those lines – not only has a human toll to it, but it has a real threat to how we should deal with civil nuclear around Ukraine, but around the world as well.
And we’ve been very clear in this government about the fact that we don’t think this is the right way to go, it’s dangerous to go this way, and we’ve been working with our IAEA colleagues – Secretary General Grossi and others there as well. And he’s tried to play a constructive role to try to put some rules on the table so that we make sure – even in a war zone, to make sure that there’s not inadvertent damage to the power plant and obviously what could flow from that.
So it’s a dangerous situation. We’re not there yet. We’re trying to work with IAEA and others, and of course the Ukrainian Government, to try to resolve some of these issues going forward.
QUESTION: Thank you so much. Berto Simoni, Italian La Stampa. I would like to ask you just quick question. The first one is how OPEC+ strategy – I mean up and down with this pump or oil – has affected your strategy in releasing strategic oil – the first one.
And the second one – how is relation with Venezuela? I mean, in the last couple of months, Venezuela started to pump again oil and to sell. So which is your strategy? What are you going to do in regarding Caracas and the fact that Venezuelan oil will be – come back to the market?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well, there’s no doubt it’s been in a challenging couple years here when it comes to global oil markets, and it’s a one-two with the COVID challenge, right – you’ll recall when we all stopped coming into the office, demand went down, especially because transportation use went way down. And OPEC+ but our own producers here in the U.S. had a real challenging situation to deal with, and supply went down accordingly. But what’s been happening over the last year, year and a half is demand has come roaring back but supply has not met up with that demand. That’s why we’ve had that upward pressure in price that was seen particularly in last summer but going into the fall, and we’re finally getting to a place where supply matches up with demand a little bit better.
So I feel incredibly proud of what we’ve done in the U.S. Government. This has been a very challenging global oil market to help manage and to deal with, and we’ve been working with partners, including our partners through the International Energy Agency, which was set up back in the 1970s to deal with these kinds of situations along those lines. And we did have the largest release from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, working with allies and partners at that same time to deal with the fact that supply and demand were not matching up. We had a gap there. We had even bigger risks than what ultimately happened that we were really worried about in terms of more Russian supplies coming off the market.
So I feel really good about that intervention we had last year that was able to stabilize the supply, stabilize the prices, and have some downward pressure. And it’s not just the American people that are benefiting from that U.S. leadership; it’s countries around the world, and again, especially developing countries that aren’t producers themselves that just have to rely on whatever the global market is along those lines.
Obviously, OPEC+ makes its own decisions. We take into account every decision that’s made by all the major producers around the world in order to make sure that we’re doing right by the American people, our own national security interests, but also looking at our partners around the world as well. And we’ll continue to make decisions in that holistic kind of way going forward.
Your second question – Venezuela, of course, historically has been a big, big producer. They’ve had some challenges recently on the production side. There are some efforts, and I’ll leave it to our State Department colleagues to carefully calibrate and talk about the U.S. strategy on Venezuela going forward along those lines. And, of course, we’re part of those discussions. There have been many discussions with our State Department colleagues and the White House, trying to figure out what U.S. strategy is going to be as it evolves going forward to try to help the Venezuelan people but also the security interests, the economic interests there as well.
MODERATOR: From Poland.
QUESTION: Hi, hello. Rafal Stanczyk from Polish Public Television. Two questions: Do we agree with the statement or the opinion that this winter was relatively easy for Europe because the gas storage in many countries were pretty full and the big challenge will be the next winter?
And the second question, on Poland. So Poland is called the military hub for Ukraine. Do you think it could become an energy hub for Ukraine but also for the Eastern Europe? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Yeah, thanks for the questions, and your first question – I think we’ve both been – and credit to our European colleagues and partners – I think we did what we needed to do to deal with this winter, but we were also lucky at the same time. And it’s good to be prepared and it’s good to be lucky, but we were lucky for this winter, and I think next winter is going to be even more challenging.
And we’ve had our eye on that ball from the U.S. Government side for many, many months. Secretary Granholm was part of a meeting with other ministers through the International Energy Agency. There’s been a report, an analysis done by the IEA secretariat, working hand in hand with the EU, DG Energy, and others in the European Union, and Poland of course directly and other countries on preparing for next winter already. We won’t have that Russian gas coming in to fill up the coffers, to fill up the storage as we had it for this past winter, and we’re going to need to make sure that we have those sources coming in, building those supplies back up. Now, we’re going to start from a higher level because it was a mild winter in Europe and that helps, but we really need to keep our eye on the ball.
And it’s not just next winter. It’s the winter after that as well, especially before some of the bigger LNG export facilities come online. It takes about three to four years for these big export facilities to come online, so we’ve got a gap here of a few years. That’s going to be a real challenge, and we’re going to need to work that.
And, of course, as I mentioned in the outset, it’s not just Europe that depends – although increasingly depending on U.S. natural gas – but it’s also countries like Japan and South Korea and others as well. And we want to make sure that those countries have stable, affordable energy supplies as well.
So a lot of credit goes to our European countries and colleagues for dealing with this crisis, including trying to make sure that they’re using the gas that they have as efficiently as they possibly can and making sure that we shepherd those resources at the same time of leaning into the clean energy transition and building out even more offshore wind, even more solar, even more storage; building the hydrogen economy that can help diversify and make sure we have more resilient energy supplies. So a lot of real credit on that front.
And then Poland – Poland deserves, in my opinion, an awful lot of credit on many fronts, and I think our President spoke very eloquently when he was in Poland last week or the week before, just a few weeks ago on the anniversary of the invasion, this – the continued invasion of Ukraine, not just the first time of the invasion in Ukraine. And I think Poland is and can be an even bigger powerhouse when it comes to energy, including on the clean energy front. We’ve had a lot of good conversations, and there’s some action on the nuclear side – civilian nuclear side – in Poland between Poland and the U.S. and U.S. companies along those lines. But I think there’s a lot of opportunity and capability in this new clean energy transition for Poland as well. So I think Poland’s situated incredibly importantly, and the leadership will need to continue from Poland for us to be successful on many, many fronts.
MODERATOR: Any other questions in the room? Yes, EFE.
QUESTION: Paula Escalada from EFE News. I have a couple of questions. How has affected specifically the war to accelerate the clean energy transition in the United States but also globally? And I would like to know also your opinion about the fact that Spain is one of the countries that is resisting better the energetic crisis.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Yeah, thanks – thanks for the question. So there is no doubt in my mind, and I’ve studied energy for many, many years, we are in the midst of a clean energy transition – a global clean energy transition. And there’s also no doubt that we need to accelerate that further certainly to achieve our climate objective that we’ve all laid out to, we’ve all agreed at the Paris Agreement, in order to be successful on those lines. And we don’t need to just accelerate a little bit. If you look at the numbers and where we need to go, we need to accelerate dramatically pace and scale all around the world as well. But I think we can get a huge amount of economic benefit, energy security benefit, affordability benefit if we do it right and we do it aggressively and really lean in on that front.
2022 I think will go down as a very pivotal year, including for the global clean energy transition. And I think what you saw in 2022 is a lot of countries leaned in on their global clean energy transition not only because they want to be responsible countries to achieve the climate objective we all share, but a lot of countries are seeing the economic security and the affordability benefits of leaning in on the clean energy side of things. So what we saw is a dramatic increase in some of the numbers in Europe and other countries around the world, not just in terms of deployment that happened in 2022, but decisions – policy decisions, other decisions, business decisions – that we’ll see the benefit of in 2023 and 2024 and 2025.
So one nugget there for you is colleagues at the International Energy Agency had to increase their estimate of global installation of PVs around the world by 30 percent from their estimate that just came out a few months ago from where they were a year ago. So that’s taking into account all of the different changes that happened in 2022, again, because energy security benefits from solar PV, from actually having PV installed in your country. It’s not like a dictator can come from a nearby country and put a big solar shield over your country if you’ve got PV built out or wind turbines built out or solar or battery storage or hydrogen built out along those lines. So we saw an estimate of a 30 percent increase just from a year time period with all those additional data points. That just gives you an example of the transition accelerating.
In the U.S., we had historic legislation pass, the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that is 10 times bigger in terms of the funding than we’ve ever had in the U.S. for clean energy, for climate efforts across the board. All the tax incentives, 369 billion at a minimum of tax incentives – it could be even more than that if more consumers take advantage of it, businesses take advantage of it.
At the Department of Energy, we were given $100 billion alone to spend on all sorts of programs: hydrogen hubs; building out geothermal, wind, storage; building out our grids; building out transmission. That in itself is a huge, huge data point and will be a huge catalyst not only for our own clean energy transition here in the U.S. but globally as well. And of course, Europe with Fit for 55, all the efforts that are going on in Europe; Japan, South Korea, Australia – countries around the world really stepping up.
And again I think the big thing that countries realized, political leaders realized in 2022 was it’s not only what you need to do for the climate benefit and to deal with our climate crisis. It’s going to help you on energy security; it’s going to help you on affordability done right, done in a smart way, and done in a partnership kind of way as well. And of course, Spain – we need Spanish leadership. We need leadership across Europe. We need leadership across the world to really take advantage and to embrace that. But it’s an eyes-wide-open embracing of the benefits that come from these clean energy technologies. And I think that’s what’s exciting, and I think that’s what’s the real game changer, and 2022 is a pretty watershed year for that.
MODERATOR: Okay. Yes, remember to state your name and outlet.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mia Chen with Radio Free Asia. I’m going to focus on China. I’ve got a couple questions. The first is like for your knowledge, has China benefit from this Ukraine war energy-wide?
And the second is like the White House and State house has been talking about cooperations with China on global crisis like climate change. And has the Energy Department worked with the Chinese counterpart in terms of cooperations on energy or climate? And like can you share more about that?
And the third, since you mentioned COVID, could you talk more about like the conclusion of COVID origin, like broke the news last weekend? Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well, thanks – thanks for all of those questions. So has China benefited from what’s happened in Russia and Ukraine? I think the answer overall when I look at it as an energy expert is no. China is a major importer of energy. And the prices China has had to pay for oil, for gas, for other energy sources that they import has gone up, just like it’s gone up in countries around the world. So Russia invading Ukraine and that price pressure increasing the price has been a drag on the Chinese economy; it’s been a drag on the U.S. economy; it’s been a drag on the Japanese economy; it’s been a drag on economies around the world. And I think we all should be very clear of who’s caused that drag on all of our economies, and it was Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and everything that flowed from that.
So I would hope the Chinese leadership, I would hope the Chinese people would see what caused it and see that there’s a continuing drag on economy because of the uncertainty, because of the volatility when you have a war of that scale going on in any part of the world. And again, thinking of it from the energy perspective, there is a drag on the Chinese economy along those lines.
To your last question on the COVID origin piece, I think our National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke about this; several folks spoke about in varying degrees yesterday. We’ll wait for others to talk more about the results of not only what we did at the Department of Energy, but other independent analysis.
The one thing I’d say here is I feel incredibly proud to be part of government, not only at the Department of Energy, but part of this administration that wants to get to the truth and wants to have really smart people like our folks at the National Lab who are involved in our study look at this, look at the best information, look at the best evidence, and really come to a ground truth about what happened so we can all avoid situations like this going forward. I would hope, again, the Chinese Government would do the same. And I know we’ve been frustrated very much about not having independent, international experts come in there, have a full accounting of what’s going on, so we can all learn from it and avoid challenges going forward.
But I’m sure we will have more to say in terms of the results of this independent, credible, extensive – rightfully so the President authorizing these studies, mandating these studies to make sure we can get the ground truth and we can improve things going forward.
MODERATOR: I’m going to take a couple questions on Zoom, real quick. Pearl, I know you had your hand up from the get-go, so we’ll go to Pearl. If you can, unmute yourself, and you’re able to put on your camera, we’d love to see you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) put my camera on, but I hope to meet Deputy Secretary Turk in person in the future here. So I really appreciate you taking the time to be available to us.
I listened very intently to your opening remarks, and so I have a very – a few questions here regarding Africa. Okay. So follow – the first one I have for you is – I have a few, but this is the first – following on from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and diminished energy supply access for European countries, please help increase my audiences understanding of how the war in Ukraine is linked to Africa in terms of global energy supplies.
Now further, second part, several Biden-Harris administration officials have traveled to Angola. Last week, First Lady was in Namibia, a country with one of the U.S.’s largest solar projects. We’ve seen China’s vice premier travel to South Africa just about – in the last ten days. Russia’s foreign minister has traveled to several countries on the continent. And this week, French President Emmanuel Macron will be on the ground in person in Angola, and energy is on his agenda. Could you speak to how your executive office views the great power contest in the face of China and Russia’s influence in Africa and linkages to energy, and especially as we see companies like Eni, Cabinda, Soyo, Total have and continue to have interest in Angola, in Namibia, Mozambique, and other countries? So what is the U.S.’s interest in Angola?
And then if you have time, could you comment on the disparity between southern Africa having some of the largest oil and gas resources to have energy challenges in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where people are experiencing electricity shortages and going hours and hour and hours without power? Thank you, Deputy Secretary.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well thanks, Pearl, for all those questions. And I mentioned I’ve recently been in Africa, in South Africa and then Ghana as well and been part of many, many conversations, including leading up the Africa Leaders Summit and then after the Africa Leaders Summit about what the U.S. Government can do to be a true partner, an enduring partner, with individual countries, but with the continent, and most importantly for the benefit of the people of the continent. So let me ask – answer all of your three questions.
So first, what impact has Russia/Ukraine had on people and countries in Africa? I think the simplest way and the most direct way, and maybe the most – the biggest impact has been on the price of oil, the price of what people pay at the pump. And oil is traded globally, and when Russia invades Ukraine, Russia is a big producer of oil. It brought in a whole lot of volatility and worries about global markets in terms of how much oil would be out there globally. And so what that did is it caused prices to spike up for global oil, and then that impacts how much everybody pays for gasoline at the pump, whether in South Africa, whether in Ghana, whether in the U.S. It’s a global price with some regional fluctuation along those lines. And so this extra volatility that President Putin put into the global system caused these price spikes, caused significant increases in price that made energy less – made energy more expensive for consumers around the world.
And I think it’s useful to think of this as a drag on the economy. It caused not only what you pay at the pump to be higher, but that price factors into an awful lot of inflation, an awful lot of inflationary pressure in terms of how much it costs to get products from one place to another. All of that increases in price. So a significant part of the inflation that all of our countries have been suffering from is caused by Putin invading Russia – invading Ukraine and causing that volatility in the global oil markets in particular. There’s been some other impact, including supply chain more generally, including for some of our clean energy, PV and wind and other kinds of products as well.
Secondly, what’s the interest? And there are a lot of folks visiting Africa, different African countries, et cetera. What I’ll say is I’ll speak to the U.S. strategy and what we’re trying to do, and I think the President has spoken about this incredibly eloquent, Secretary Blinken over at the State Department, and others of us as well. I like to think – and maybe the U.S. hasn’t lived up to this standard all the time in our history – but I feel proud to be part of an administration that really wants to work in true partnership with countries in Africa and countries around the world. I think there’s a huge, huge opportunity for countries in Africa with this clean energy transition and the clean energy revolution and the vast amount of materials and products and manufactured goods that we’re all going to need if we’re going to be successful in this clean energy transition going forward.
And I think it doesn’t just – and I think this may be the difference between the U.S. strategy and maybe some other countries out there – it’s not just about coming in and mining. The conversations I had in South Africa, the conversations I had in Ghana were about advancing up that manufacturing supply chain. So it’s not just the mining; it’s the processing. It’s getting more benefits, rightfully so, from countries in terms of their natural resources, doing it in a transparent way, doing it in a way that benefits the people. There’s an opportunity there, but it’s going to take true partnership. It’s going to take a real working year in – day in and day out, year in and year out. But I think there’s a huge, huge opportunity space along those lines. And the hope is that there is this true partnership, it’s not just another exploitation of resources. There’s a real ability to do this in a way that works for South African people, African people more generally across the continent as well.
South Africa has had some challenges, and I was there meeting with the ministry, but meeting with others – Excom and others – Eskom and others on the electricity shortages that are happening in South Africa, especially a country that has a huge amount of resources, including solar resources, including other resources as part of the clean energy. And we are working in partnership with South Africa. We’d like to work even more in partnership with South Africa, bringing our national lab expertise to the table, helping South Africa achieve its own objectives, including in the clean energy transition, but doing it in a true partnership kind of way. And that’s the spirit of what we’re trying to do on that front.
One other nugget I’ll throw out there, both from COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for the first time in recent memory we actually went backwards on bringing electricity access around the world, and especially in Africa. So we haven’t been making as much progress as we need to make for the sustainable development goals that we’ve all agreed to. But over the last couple of years, we actually went backwards. So there’s less people now that have access to electricity in Africa than had it before COVID, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And that is a big, big consequence for folks going forward. We need to reverse that. We need to dramatically make sure everyone has access in our modern world to clean, affordable, secure energy supplies. So thanks for your questions, Pearl.
MODERATOR: Okay, let’s take one more question from Zoom. We’re going to go to Alex from Azerbaijan.
QUESTION: Jake, thank you so much. And Deputy Secretary, thanks for doing this. Quick questions. Given what you just said in response to my Polish colleague’s question a few minute earlier, is it too early to claim that – to claim the total victory over Putin’s energy war? As you know, he’s weaponizing energy resources to fracture European resolve on Ukraine.
And secondly, although some neighboring countries, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, had been playing helpful role in terms of helping Europe to diversify their energy resources, but they also have enhanced their own energy relationship with Russia this year. I’m just wondering where, if any, line that you are drawing in this case.
And lastly, if I may, when it comes to Russian energy companies’ operations outside of Russia, I’m just wondering if this is on your radar this or next year – the latest example of this is Russian oil monopoly Transneft yesterday said that they have started pumping oil from Kazakhstan to Germany via Poland through their Druzhba pipeline while halting deliveries to Poland. I’m just wondering if this is something that you will be tackling on this year. Thank you so much again.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Yeah, thanks, Alex. Thanks for the question. And the way I’d put it is I feel really good about the progress that we’ve made in 2022, which was a very, very difficult, challenging year in terms of the dynamics we were all dealing with. And I feel good about the role that the U.S. has played under President Biden’s leadership, working multilaterally, working in a transparent way, working in a true partnership way, not only focusing on the near-term issues and challenges in Ukraine and Europe and countries around the world, including developing countries, but building that more sustainable, more affordable, reliable, secure energy future as well.
So I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress in an incredibly difficult year of 2022. But to answer your question directly, we are not out of the woods. There’s a lot more that we need to do. There’s still volatility, whether you look in the oil markets, whether you look with other markets out there. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got diverse, reliable supply chains when it comes to critical minerals and the processing of those critical minerals and making sure that we can rely on that day-in and day-out, year-in and year-out. So we’ve got a lot of work to do on that front.
But it’s going to require an awful lot of true partnership, and I think that’s the spirit in which I feel like our country is trying to engage with other countries going forward. And I think what countries are seeing is who are their true partners, who are their partners in times of need, who are the partners that they can rely upon for the long haul. And I think a lot of countries are looking at Russia and distrusting that there’s a true partnership approach there, at least with the current regime in Russia. And so those who want to work together and want to have mutally supportive true partnerships, there’s a group of countries that I think are eager for those kinds of relationships and discussion.
But what can’t happen is what Germany and others in Europe did previously, is rely on one country, a dictator, a dictatorship that is not a true partner, and Europe had some real repercussions from that. And I think there’s a lot of lessons learned coming from that, and I think there’s lessons learned – leaders are looking across the board at their own energy security, who are their true partners out there. And I think that’s what we need to consolidate, we need to focus on in 2023, and build the clean energy, the reliable energy, the affordable energy, the universal electricity access that we need to for the future.
So thanks for your question, Alex.
MODERATOR: And we have one last Zoom question from Rahim, Kurdistan 24. Rahim, if you can unmute yourself.
QUESTION: Thank you very much for this great opportunity. I would like to ask about Kurdistan. And many energy experts believe that Kurdistan has a good opportunity for the world market after the Russian war against Ukraine. How do you think about this, and how do you describe your relationship with Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq in the energy sector? Thank you very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well, thanks for your question. And I think there’s a huge opportunity, not just for Iraq and Kurdistan and others around the region – there’s a real opportunity for every country around the world. And when there are – when there is volatility, when there is dynamicism like we’ve seen in 2022 and will continue in 2023, those countries with leaders who are accountable and responsible to their people, looking to build transparency, looking to build long-term relationships – country to country, region to region, business to business – in terms of providing that stable, transparent, rules-based system for folks to make investment, I think there’s huge, huge opportunity for a lot of folks.
And one thing hopefully that’s come clear through our discussion here but more generally, there’s a lot of opportunity to make a lot of money in energy, especially in this clean energy transition, in a true partnership kind of way. And that’s good for energy security, good for affordability, good for sustainability of energy use going forward. And I think the leaders that I respect the most in this space are not only looking at the near-term opportunities and benefits for their people, but looking medium and longer term as well. And maybe there’s not been as much focus of that medium and longer term in terms of utilizing the full range of energy assets that countries have going forward.
Thanks for your question.
MODERATOR: And we’ll go to the last question here, to Ukraine.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Sir, one more important issue. In a couple of days it will be three months since the moment when the price cap on Russia oil was approved. So I’m really interested in your personal opinion about the effectiveness of this step. And to – from this podium and from other American officials, we were told that one of the goals is to decrease the money which Russia can spend financing this war. Do you think that on some moment it will be the moment when we should review the effectiveness and maybe decrease the 60 per – the 60 per gallon price cap?
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: So I think it’s been a remarkable achievement, our country working with others in Europe, working with the G7, working with other partners – even those partners that are not officially part of the price cap, we’ve had an awful lot of discussion with them to try to make sure that this system works for everybody. And what we’re trying to do with the price cap is have this be a mechanism to not disrupt global energy supplies, to keep supplies as affordable as they possibly can be around the world and as secure as they can be around the world, but to avoid – as much as we possibly can – revenue coming into the Russian coffers to keep fueling the war.
And what we’ve seen over the last several months, as the price of oil has gone down, the price of gas has gone down, that the profits for Putin have gone down as well. So we’ll need to keep very vigilant on this. There are mechanisms designed into the price cap for countries to get together and assess is the right level for the crude oil price cap that came in several months ago. The more recent one was dealing with oil products as well that came in. And there are mechanisms – there will be discussion whether those need to be adjusted going forward. But so far – and due to this partnership of many countries around the world – I think we’ve been able to manage this in an incredibly productive, constructive way.
And the benefits of this regime have not just flowed to those countries directly participating in the price cap. One thing that I don’t think gets as noticed is that’s kept the price pressure down, and that’s benefited countries around the world. It’s benefited India; it’s benefited countries in Africa; it’s benefited countries in Latin America. So the more we can keep prices low, that’s good for our global economy. It’s also good to avoid those revenues coming into Putin’s war machine. And so we’ve been able to manage that over the last several months, very well, but we’ll need to keep vigilant about this. This is still a dynamic, volatile market, and we’ll need to deal with it in a thoughtful, eyes-wide-open, and a partnership model. And that’s what we’ve done with the price cap.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’ll end the Q&A session there. Deputy Secretary Turk, I’ll leave it to you to offer any closing remarks or thoughts.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: Well, just thanks for your time and attention. And certainly more than happy to follow up with any of you in terms of what we’re trying to do from the Department of Energy. 2022 was a volatile, pivotal year in global energy, and we hope it’s a springboard for accelerating the clean energy transition to have affordable energy supplies around the world, to make sure that they’re resilient energy supplies. And one thing I hope you will see from the U.S. and talking to the people that you report to in your various countries is this true partnership. I feel incredibly proud that we’re a country that aspires to that true partnership model. It may be that we don’t always succeed on that, but that is the aspiration. And there’s an awful lot of good folks in our U.S. Government – State Department, the White House, Department of Energy, USAID – trying to work in that true partnership mode. And I think if we’re smart, if we can work together, we’ll come out on the other end here in a much, much better place. And it feels like – my hope is 2022 will be a – recorded in history as a real pivotal point in history when it comes to energy. But thanks for your time and attention, and more than happy to follow up.
MODERATOR: And thank you, Deputy Secretary of Energy Turk. Thank you for your time, and thank you to all the journalists joining us in person and on Zoom. This ends today’s briefing. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY TURK: All right, thanks, everybody.