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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Ukraine

2nd September 2011

Increasing Ukrainian gas production

A dozen TV cameras zoom in on a pen and an inch-thick contract.  Signatures are completed; contracts swapped; and more signatures added.  Eventually the process is complete and there are handshakes and a round of applause.

I am at the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy to witness the signing of an important Joint Activity Agreement between Shell and its Ukrainian partner UkrGasVydobuvannya worth, potentially, up to $800m.  The contract, which is designed to exploit shale gas in Ukraine, is one of the largest investment agreements signed in Ukraine in recent years.  It holds out the prospect of increasing Ukrainian gas production and Ukraine’s energy self-sufficiency.  It also signals the determination of the Ukrainian government to attract more inward investment.

I am delighted to see the agreement signed.  Shell, a major British/Dutch company, is serious about wanting to invest more in Ukraine, as demonstrated by the presence at the event of Peter Voser, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell alongside Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko.  I noted in July several recent positive steps on Ukrainian energy policy.

The key to a long-term increase in inward investment in Ukraine remains creating an environment where investors have confidence that the rule of law applies; that business interests with close links to the authorities are not able to use the institutions of the state (including security, tax and regulatory organs and the courts themselves) to put pressure on competitors or secure assets; and that those state organs behave in a transparent and predictable way.  This will require a wholesale change to the way the rule of law operates in Ukraine at present.  If the Ukrainian Government can achieve this change in the business climate, Ukraine can expect many more major deals of the sort signed with Shell.  If not, there is a risk that such important new investments will remain the exception rather than the rule.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.