Geoffrey Pyatt

Foreign Press Center Briefing on U.S. Global Energy Security Policy

delivered 27 March 2024, Washington, D.C.

Audio mp3 of Address       Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address


MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s briefing on the U.S. Global Energy Policy Priorities. My name is Zina Wolfington, and I’m the moderator for this briefing. This briefing is on the record. The transcript will be posted on the website after the briefing. For the journalists joining us on Zoom, please take a moment now to rename yourself in the chat window with your name, outlet, and country.

Our briefer today is Geoffrey Pyatt, assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. Following his opening remarks, I will open the floor for questions.

And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Assistant Secretary Pyatt.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: Great. Good morning, everybody, and it’s great to be back at the Foreign Press Center. I know we’ve got a broad range of interests and questions this morning, so I’ll try to keep my opening remarks fairly brief. And just to share a few reflections, last week I spent four days in Houston, Texas at CERAWeek, which is the world’s largest energy conference. And it was a particularly opportune moment, both to do a lot of the kind of intensive energy-focused coordination that ENR [Bureau of Energy Resources] does all the time, but also, I think, to take the temperature of the international energy community at a moment of profound transformation.

For me, there were two key takeaways from the CERAWeek discussion, and then an area of future focus. The two takeaways were both the continued acceleration of the global energy transition, and the especially important American leadership in that regard. The Inflation Reduction Act in particular is clearly changing the conversation here domestically, but also internationally, about the opportunities around new clean energy technologies, ranging from carbon sequestration to clean hydrogen to advanced battery storage technologies.

And the -- all of the issues around the acceleration of the electrification of our energy systems -- transportation, lots and lots of focus in Houston on artificial intelligence and the huge growth in demand for power that is going to create for cloud computing centers here in the United States and internationally; but also, and I think as an American energy diplomat, a particular point of pride, how American companies are leading the charge in this regard, leveraging the opportunities that the Inflation Reduction Act is creating, the degree to which the IRA has really supercharged an energy transition that was already well underway.

The other -- The other framing aspect of the conversations in Houston actually built on what I did the Friday before traveling to Houston, which was the annual U.S.-EU Energy Council. We were very pleased to have Commissioner Kadri Simson and Director General Ditte Jorgensen both at the State Department for the annual Energy Council. This year in particular was a celebration of the tremendous progress that we have made in our transatlantic energy relationship, the degree to which Europe has exceeded expectations in de-risking its exposure to Russian energy coercion -- dramatically reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian oil, gas, coal, and looking to the future, nuclear fuel -- but also the very strong alignment between U.S. and European objectives as we seek to navigate the disruption of global markets that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the weaponization of Russia’s energy resources has prompted.

And then the area of future focus -- and I think we’ll see more on this in the weeks ahead -- are the issues around critical minerals, which is an issue where ENR has led the State Department’s work internationally, including through our flagship initiative, the Minerals Security Partnership, which seeks to bring together likeminded countries around the world to mobilize resources and mobilize our private sectors to reduce our dependence on a single country as the principal supplier of the energy minerals that are so important to our transition. As some of my European colleagues put it in Houston, we have to work very, very hard to ensure that an era of European dependence on Russian oil and gas is not followed by an era of collective dependence on China for all of these processing and extraction of critical minerals.

In that regard, there were some really interesting conversations, especially with our private sector companies, looking at what the State Department is doing through MSP [Minerals Security Partnership], through MINVEST [Minerals Investment Network for Vital Energy Security and Transition], our private sector partnership; with SAFE [Securing America's Future Energy], the energy security NGO here in Washington. And as I said to Dan Yergin at one point, I think in some ways the conversation around critical minerals is a little bit like where the conversation around oil was in the 1970s after the oil shocks and the creation of the International Energy Agency.

We are starting to think about these critical minerals not just as a commodity issue but as a question of national security. And it’s in that spirit that we approach this issue, and it’s in that spirit that we are working with the 14 [correction: 15 MSP partners] countries and economies that are part of the MSP coalition, significantly now representing more than half of global GDP. You will see a bit more on this, I think, next week when Secretary Blinken will be back in Europe. But you’ve also seen the statements from Under Secretary Fernandez, including around the SAFE Summit two weeks ago, and all of the work that we are doing in the MSP context to mobilize partners, to mobilize resources, to leverage what the White House has done through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, and to, as I said, approach these questions not just as an issue of industrial policy or as a commodity question but as a matter of national security.

So let me stop my opening comments there, and happy to have the usual broad range of questions. It’s been a very, very busy couple of months for ENR. I think I started out 2024 in Riyadh just a couple of weeks after the new year and have been around the world a couple of times since then, reflecting, I think, the just tremendous opportunities that we see in the energy security and energy transition spaces, but also the centrality of so many of these issues to our overall national security and diplomatic agendas.

MODERATOR: Thank you for the remarks. And now I would like to open it up for questions. A reminder for journalists joining us via Zoom -- please be sure your screen includes your name, outlet, and country. We will start with the questions from the room. If called, please introduce yourself before your question. We’ll start with you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Zina. Thank you, Ambassador. Iaroslav Dovgopol, UkrInform News Agency, Ukraine. So, Ambassador, you said -- you mentioned about circumstances of Russian war in Ukraine, and I obviously have a question regarding -- would you please reveal the long-term projects related to the U.S.-Ukraine interaction in the energy domain? And in context of the recent Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, does the -- U.S. Administration have funding in the recently approved budget to help Ukraine in the energy sector? And is the U.S. planning to provide such assistance any time soon? And if I may, I have then one more question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: Okay. So let me begin, Iaroslav, by just saying my heart goes out to the millions of Ukrainians who’ve been affected by the latest wave of Russian attacks that began on Friday, the biggest single series of air strikes against energy infrastructure since the start of the war. This is a focus of tremendous attention across the Administration, including Secretary Blinken. We are working very closely with allies and partners around the world.

I also want to note just our tremendous, tremendous admiration for the Ukrainian energy workers who are responding to this situation. Just this morning I had a long discussion with the Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the CEO of Ukrenergo, the national grid operator. Volodymyr described to me the recovery efforts that are being made in Kharkiv, in Burshtyn, in Krivyi Rih, in Dnipro, in Odesa. We have seen a complex set of tactics by Putin -- who spent, by the way, hundreds of millions of dollars in munitions in these series of attacks. There has been tremendous progress over the past few days in recovery, but there has also been great damage.

I will note some of the good news, which is that the passive protection measures that the United States and our European allies have been helping to support -- did prove its utility at a number of sites. But Putin was able to inflict significant damage as well. And I just want to underline how outrageous it is that the Kremlin continues to target these civilian objects with no military objective, simply to cause pain and suffering among Ukrainian citizens. And we will respond.

I will host tomorrow another in the series of G7+ energy sector support videos that the United States helped to organize, at the time jointly with our German allies, starting in October of 2022. This will be one of the most important of these calls that we’ve done. We will have Minister Galushchenko from Kyiv, but also Mr. Kudrytskyi and other Ukrainian officials, to present their damage assessment and also their immediate requirements.

We need to do several things at the same time. We will be seeking to mobilize immediate assistance, as we have been doing since October of ’22 when these energy sector attacks began. We will also be continuing our work to focus on Ukraine’s long-term objective of building a future energy system that is cleaner, greener, and fully aligned with European standards.

But I want to emphasize also that Putin is failing. This is -- we are now at the end of the third winter of Russia’s war against the people of Ukraine. Ukraine has demonstrated tremendous resilience, thanks in large part to the courage of energy workers from companies like Ukrenergo and DTEK. The lights have stayed on. Putin has failed in that effort. He has lost Europe as an energy market. And we are committed to ensuring that that failure continues.

I think -- you asked about future resources. Last June, at the London Ukraine Recovery Conference, Secretary of State Blinken announced $522 million in energy sector assistance to tackle those two challenges that I talked about, both the immediate reconstruction and recovery, but also the long-term resilience and Europeanization of Ukraine’s energy system. That remains our guiding objective. We are working very, very hard and hope very much that Congress will approve the President’s national security supplemental as soon as they come back from the Easter recess. I think the attacks of the past few days make that action even more urgent. I know that the White House is optimistic that we will get a positive outcome from Congress, and that’s certainly what I hear from members of Congress when I speak to them.

So we will assess where we are in terms of requirements. We will coordinate with our allies, who are carrying a significant amount of the burden. And then we will begin our work looking towards the next Ukraine Recovery Conference, which will be hosted by Germany in Berlin at the middle of June.

MODERATOR: You have a follow-up?

QUESTION: And yeah, my second question, thank you. After the recent Russian attack on the Dnipro hydropower station, how does the United States read these threats for other major power plants in Ukraine, including NPPs [Nuclear Power Plants]? And do you have any interaction with the allies, partners with the Russians, to prevent potential disaster?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: So we see a consistent pattern of irresponsible Russian actions. You mentioned the attack on the Dnipro hydropower plant. Last night I saw in Ukrainska Pravda the photographs of the destroyed Kharkiv central heating plant and thermal power plant. DTEK has shared with me the pictures of destruction at Burshtyn. Again, Putin’s actions have crossed every line in terms of his military tactics and the destruction that he is inflicting with no military objective on the people of Ukraine and Ukraine’s infrastructure. President von der Leyen and all of our European allies have made clear that Putin and Russia has to be held accountable for those actions, and that, as President von der Leyen has put it, the aggressor will pay. So there is a cost attached to this.

But in the meantime, we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that Putin’s war continues to be a strategic failure for the Kremlin, and that the Ukrainians have the resources and the wherewithal they need to prevail and to continue to sustain the extraordinary resilience that they’ve demonstrated up until now.


QUESTION: Diyar Aziz from RUDAW media. I have two questions on Iraq. We know that the Iraq is heavily dependent on Iran on the electricity.


QUESTION: Iraq speaking to both [inaudible] according to some reports, there hasn’t been a significant [inaudible]. And this led the U.S. in waiving sanctions in Iraq -- the last time it was the first time that U.S. [inaudible] sanctioned for Iraq to buy electricity from Iran, which some U.S. Congress members says that this led the financial lifeline for Iran that Iraq is funding.

So how long are you going to waiving sanctions in Iraq to buy electricity from Iran? And then how do you see that purpose that Iraq is doing to find alternatives to the Iranian electricity?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: No, well, thank you very much for the question. There are a series of absolutely vital issues that are embedded in the question. And I had the honor of joining yesterday’s meeting between my boss, Secretary of State Blinken, and the deputy prime minister, Foreign Minister of Iraq, Fuad Hussein. These issues were front and center in those conversations, as they will be front and center when the Iraqi prime minister comes here to the United States. I’ve been working with the Iraqi ambassador on that visit, including opportunities for engagement with American energy companies, because of the central role that in particular the oil and gas industry plays in the Iraqi economy, but also because of the issue that you referred to, which is the vulnerability created by Iraq’s requirement for energy imports, both gas and power, from Iraq.

I will note a couple -- there are a couple of different issues that are wrapped around this. One is the waiver, and I think they -- the Department’s actions on that issue speaks for itself. This is a topic on which I regularly engage with members of Congress. Another is the work that we continue to do with officials in Baghdad, with officials in Ankara, and with the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] on the reopening of the ITP [Iraq-Turkey Pipeline] pipeline, which is an energy asset that the United States very much wishes to see brought back online because of the critical role that that provides in helping to sustain the energy economy of the KRG region, but also because of the product, the crude oil that that pipeline delivers to global and especially European markets that are hungry for non-Russian sources of supply.

I am -- I will be part of the discussions during the Iraqi prime minister’s visit, in particular the work of the HCC [(US-Iraq) Higher Coordinating Committee]. And we talked a little bit about that with the deputy prime minister yesterday. And in that HCC context, it’s very clear that ENR issues around energy -- energy security, gas, electricity, oil, decarbonization -- will be front and center. We also have been very supportive of the work that Iraq has been doing with global energy companies, including American companies like Baker Hughes, which has projects to capture some of the gas which is currently vented and flared from Iraqi oil fields.

We’ve also been very supportive of the work that Total [TotalEnergies] has been doing, the multi-billion-dollar investment that Total has made for a similar gas capture and energy initiative. This is a critical part of helping to build Iraq’s own energy security and to achieve what the prime minister has stated is his goal of ending dependence on Iranian energy within the next three or four years.

In that regard, I also look forward to traveling myself to Iraq hopefully later this spring to advance the work that will be done during the prime minister’s visit, and in particular to advance our agenda around supporting Iraq’s energy security.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] at which they provided about 0.5 percent to the global oil supply. Now there are some issues between the U.S. companies that are operating in the Kurdistan region and the Iraqi Government, which the Iraqi Government says that the U.S. companies are not willing to operate, even the -- with green light on that. Do you think the Iraqi Government is reasonable that they are not giving the things that the U.S. companies and the KRG are requesting from the Iraqi Government from that? Dispute is that they do have around KRG oil exports. And why this hasn’t happened? Because the U.S. engaging with Türkiye, with Iraq, and the Kurdistan region. Why it’s been a year that the KRG oil has been stopped and it’s not resumed?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: So I’ll -- I don’t want to put myself in the middle of the commercial negotiations between our companies that are active in KRG and the government in Baghdad. But what I will underline is I know that the Iraqi Government is interested in attracting more foreign investment to its energy sector, and in particular to modernize that energy sector, to make it cleaner, to maximize the availability of energy for Iraqi citizens.

That will be much more difficult as long as the issues around the ITP remain unresolved. This is also an issue that I’ve had regularly on my agenda with Turkish Energy Minister Bayraktar, and it’s a regular topic of conversation, not just in the U.S.-Iraq context but also in the U.S.-Türkiye context. So I hope very much that we will be able to see progress on this issue in the run-up to and around the prime minister’s visit. But that ultimately is going to depend on what’s really a three-sided conversation between Baghdad, Erbil, and Ankara, and then also the commercial negotiations with our companies that are on the ground.


QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you very much for that presentation, Mr. Pyatt. It’s good to see you again here. Thank you very much for the briefing. Tuna Sanli from Turkish Radio and Television [inaudible]. [Inaudible] Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan visited Washington, D.C. and met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. There were broad range of topics on the table, and energy was one of them. It’s one of the hot topics between two countries, as both Türkiye and the United States say they look forward to increase the energy cooperation in various [inaudible]. First of all, can you give us details about that energy topic in that strategic mechanism meetings between Turkish foreign minister and the Secretary of State?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: So let me say a couple of things here. One is just to underline my personal focus on our energy partnership with Türkiye and the importance that we place on making continued progress. I have had the opportunity to meet with Energy Minister Bayraktar on three different continents, I think, as we’ve all traveled around the world. I last saw him in Riyadh when we were together there in January. And then last month, I was very pleased also to see Minister Bayraktar’s deputy when we were together at the IEA [International Energy Agency] 50th anniversary in Paris. So we are maintaining a regular tempo of engagement, both between Washington and the energy ministry and authorities in Ankara, but also with the foreign ministry. And I am very glad to have a really strong relationship with my counterpart in the Turkish foreign ministry as well.

I think as we look to the future, the next step, we hope very much to be able to welcome Minister Bayraktar here to Washington in the weeks ahead over the course of the spring. The ball is really in his court in terms of figuring out when we can manage that. But we have a very rich agenda of work to do together following the discussions between Secretary Blinken and Minister Fidan in the context of the strategic mechanism. We see this both on European energy security, and Türkiye has played a very important role as the host of the Southern Gas Corridor, in helping to diversify European energy supplies and European gas supplies away from dependence on Russia; as the host of multiple LNG liquefaction facilities, which have received a lot of American LNG over the past two years since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

You may have seen a speech that I gave to a forum in Alexandropolis about two weeks ago. It’s on the State Department website. But I described there our support for the Vertical Corridor, which is designed to bring non-Russian gas up into Central Europe, including to markets like Hungary, Austria, and Slovakia that remain dependent on Russian gas.
1 This will be especially important in the context of what we expect will be the end of transit through Ukraine at the end of this year when the transit contract expires. So there’s an important potential role for Türkiye there as well as an entry point for non-Russian gas into that Vertical Corridor, which would go up through Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, leveraging the gas storage that Ukraine has available in western Ukraine.

And then there are all the issues around energy transition, and I think I’ve shared the story before. I will always remember from my time as ambassador in Athens a visit that I made to Rhodes in I think it was August of 2021, which is when the terrible fires were happening across southwestern Türkiye. The sky was bright orange over the island of Rhodes. It was all the smoke and the flames that were coming from Türkiye, and it was a reminder that, much like my home state of California, much like Greece, Türkiye is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The fact that the Mediterranean has seen some of the most severe sea temperature change of any region of the world and the risks of more extreme fire events, but we are also conscious of the leadership that Türkiye has played in deploying wind and solar and the potential to do much more in this area.

And then finally, one of the follow-ups from the strategic mechanism that I will look forward to discussing with Minister Bayraktar when he comes to Washington is critical minerals, where Türkiye has literally thousands of years of history in mining and the potential to be an important part of our effort to diversify global supply chains for the critical minerals that we need to power the energy transition.

MODERATOR: Liudmila.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Liudmila Chernova. I’m with Sputnik News. The Financial Times reported last Friday that the United States had a contact with Ukraine and urged Kyiv to halt its drone attacks on Russian energy infrastructure, and warned that it both provokes retaliation from the Russian side and drives up global energy prices. The question is whether you can confirm such contacts with Ukraine and also the effect of such effects on the global prices.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: Yeah. So a couple of things. As much as I admire the reporting of my longtime friend Chris Miller at the Financial Times, I am not going to comment on our diplomatic exchanges. But what I will emphasize, as John Kirby did from the White House, is that the United States does not encourage or enable attacks on Russian territory.
2 But what we are doing is supporting Ukraine as they seek to defend their own sovereign territory against a brutal and unprovoked war that the Kremlin has now unleashed on the people of Ukraine. And the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin will be held accountable, and we are going to continue giving the Ukrainians they -- the tools they need to defend their own sovereign territory.

QUESTION: [Inaudible] prices?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: I have not seen a great shift in global energy prices in recent weeks. We have seen some dislocation partly for seasonal factors, but in fact global energy markets are quite stable at this point. And you see that in response to Putin’s weaponization of his energy resources, the disruptions created by Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. So I am quite -- and as I said, the mood at CERAWeek was quite confident about the resilience of global energy markets at this particular moment in time, in part due to the work of American energy producers, as the United States has emerged as the world’s largest oil and gas exporter.

MODERATOR: We will now take a couple questions from Zoom. Dmytro Anopchenko, please unmute yourself.

QUESTION: Good morning, Mr. Pyatt. Thank you for taking my question. And thanks to Foreign Press Center for organizing this. I’ve got one question on Ukraine. Mr. Pyatt, how would you describe the biggest threats to Ukrainian energy system on this stage of the war? Because they obviously changed since October when Ukraine was just preparing to survive during the winter. And also do you still think that cyber attacks are among those threats? I know that a lot of help was provided to Ukraine by the U.S. Administration. According to CNN, Cisco even provided the special equipment to Ukrainian power plants to be protected from the cyber attacks. So could you give more details if your office was the part of this? Do you still think that cyber threats is real and it’s among the top three priorities for Ukraine? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: So Dmytro, on your question, I mean, the first point is the biggest threat to Ukraine’s energy system is Vladimir Putin and this one man’s obsession with Ukraine and his unrelenting aggression against the Ukrainian Government and the people of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the story of cyber attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is not a new story. It actually goes back to my tenure as ambassador, and you will remember in 2015 there were some quite severe cyber attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and then very close cooperation. I was working with Chris Painter, who was our cyber coordinator at the State Department in those days -- and also with the experts of the Department of Energy, who worked closely with the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, with Ukrenergo, and other institutions of the Ukrainian state -- in order to ensure that Ukraine’s critical infrastructure was hardened against Russian aggression to the maximum extent possible. I would note also that my counterpart, our assistant secretary for the CDP [Cyberspace and Digital Policy] Bureau, was recently in Kyiv, which I think you can see -- that’s Nate Fick -- and you can see Nate’s travel as a reflection of the fact that our cooperation with Ukraine on these issues is ongoing.

I’m not going to get into further details there, but just to underline that this is not new and our support is ongoing, and that I worry about every single dimension of Putin’s threats to Ukraine’s energy system. The ballistic missiles that were deployed starting over this weekend, the Shaheds, the cruise missiles, the attacks that have been ongoing since October of 2022 now, seeking to dismantle Ukraine’s energy system -- this recent wave of attacks, what was novel in these attacks was the intensive targeting of generation capacity, and we will respond to that, as we talked about earlier, through the G7+ mechanism. And we are going to continue, as I said, to give Ukraine the tools that it needs to defend its own sovereign territory, including recognizing that Putin, as the NATO secretary general put it memorably, has tried to weaponize the winter, and we want to ensure that that weapon is unsuccessful.

MODERATOR: Next we’ll go to Alex Raufoglu online. Please unmute yourself, Alex.

QUESTION: Zinaida, thank you so much for doing this, and Assistant Secretary, thank you so much for your time. This is Alex Raufoglu. I am from Turan News Agency. I have two quick questions and one follow-up. The question was asked about this Russian energy infrastructure. I get the line that the U.S. -- it’s a familiar line that the U.S. does not encourage Ukraine to fight back in Russia, but are there any constraints placed upon Ukraine in how Ukraine defends itself, whether it needs or not to take the fight back to Russia? I mean, Russian energy is a main source of fighting and funding the war. What do you expect Ukraine to do if not fight back by targeting the energy infrastructure?

And second question, is it too early to declare the total victory over Putin’s efforts to weaponize the winter and energy? You -- Assistant Secretary, you said that they have failed, but there are reports also out there about Russian efforts to skirt the sanctions, so I want to get your comments on that.

And finally, if I may, you -- as I understand, you recently met with Azerbaijan’s deputy energy minister, who oversees COP29 efforts, and you said you’re looking forward to keeping up COP28 momentum this fall in Baku. Can you please elaborate on that? Any particular deliverable you are looking forward to seeing? Thank you so much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: Sure. Thank you for both of those questions. Let me just -- on Ukraine, what I want to emphasize is this war has been a catastrophic strategic failure for the Kremlin, for Vladimir Putin, one of the world’s great examples of self-harm. Ukraine today is more united as a country than it has ever been before in its independent history. Ukraine has a clear pathway to membership in the European Union. NATO is stronger and larger than it was before Putin began this tragic invasion. Russia has lost Europe as an energy market, and Europe will never again view Russia as a reliable energy supplier. The Ukrainian economy has fundamentally reoriented itself towards the West.

And so you ask is it too early to declare Ukraine’s victory. It’s too early to declare Ukraine’s victory as long as these terrible Russian attacks continue, Ukrainian civilians killed every single day by cruise missiles and attacks on apartment buildings and destructions of schools and hospitals. But I am quite confident, having spent more than a decade watching this issue now, that this war will be recorded by history as an extraordinary strategic failure for Vladimir Putin.

And then you asked about COP29, and you are correct, I had very good discussions in Houston with the deputy energy minister. I also had excellent discussions a few weeks ago when the energy minister himself was here in Washington. I underlined the United States very strong support to the Azeri presidency of COP29.

I also met in Houston with the Emiratis, and I emphasized how supportive we are of the Troika mechanism that UAE, Azerbaijan, and Brazil have developed to manage the agenda for COP28.

You asked about deliverables, and let me emphasize the issues that I’m responsible for, and I’m not going to speak to the UN climate negotiations and the things that my colleagues Rick Duke and Sue Biniaz in SPEC [Special Presidential Envoy for Climate] are responsible for. My focus is on the issues around the greening of our energy system, working to ensure that the fossil energy that the world is going to continue to use is delivered in the least climate-damaging way possible, which means sustaining our efforts on methane abatement -- we are very, very supportive of the announcement that President Aliyev made in terms of Azerbaijan’s adherence to the Global Methane Pledge, and we’re working now with companies like BP and Chevron and Exxon Mobile that are active in the Caspian region to look at opportunities to capture more of the methane and associated gases that have come from the countries that have recently signed the Global Methane Pledge in the region, so Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.

We are also very interested in continuing the work that Dr. Sultan Al Jaber did so effectively at COP28 to bring along the global energy companies, the national oil companies. I also met in Houston with, for instance, the CEO of NNPC [Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation] in Nigeria. And on a lot of these issues of decarbonization, methane abatement, carbon sequestration, the greatest part of the work has to be done with the national oil companies. And so the work that UAE did in that regard was most welcome.

Had a number of conversations in Houston with my DOE [(U.S.) Department of Energy] colleague Brad Crabtree from the Office of Fossil Energy. Assistant Secretary Crabtree and I have been centrally involved in work around the oil and gas decarbonization effort, the contributions that many of our American oil and energy companies have made to the UN -- excuse me -- the World Bank fund for methane abatement, leveraging that opportunity as well. So we have a very deep agenda of priorities for COP29, and I think based on my conversations with the COP president at Houston, I’m confident that there’s a strong degree of alignment between the goals that President Aliyev set and the goals that the United States is going to bring to that -- the next COP and then also as we head towards Brazil in 2025.

MODERATOR: We have time for one more question. Sergey.

QUESTION: [Inaudible.] Sergey Yumatov from Russian TASS news agency. So you mentioned the price cap on Russian oil. My question is: Are there ongoing discussions within the G7 on further lowering the price cap, and [inaudible] the G7 consider any additional steps in this regard? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: Yes. The short answer is yes. We are committed to working with our price cap coalition to deny Russia the resources that it uses to prosecute this terrible war against the people of Ukraine. So you have seen the steps that we have taken as part of the price cap coalition to step up enforcement, including of the attestation by shipping companies. You have seen the sanctions that we have leveled against ships and shipping companies that have found to be skirting those requirements.

You’ve also seen the work that we are undertaking to systematically target projects which are focused on Russia’s future energy production capacity -- so, for instance, the sanctions against Novatek, against the Arctic LNG 2 project, which are clearly having an effect based on the complaints that have come from Moscow about those sanctions actions.

You’re also seeing a systematic effort to go after shipping. You’ve seen the recent sanctions that we have leveled against Sovcomflot and a number of Sovcomflot vessels. There will be more -- I promise you that -- as we seek to tighten the sanctions regime around Russia. I’m not going to preview specific sanctions actions, but what I am here to tell you is that we are committed to the forceful implementation of those sanctions measures.

Significantly also an issue that we have talked about in the context of the US-EU Energy Council -- and which I think is mentioned in the very good joint statement from the Energy Council -- is the question of Russian nuclear fuel and services, where we as the G7 are committed to phasing out our dependence and where Congress took important steps last week to implement what Secretary Granholm talked about in her testimony before Congress last week as well, which is an eventual ban on the import of Russian nuclear fuel into the United States and the regeneration of our fuel industry domestically here in the U.S. to propel our own growth of our nuclear industry and to decouple from Russian supplies just as Europe has succeeded in decoupling from Russian gas, coal, and oil.

MODERATOR: Thank you. This concludes the Q&A session. I will now turn it over to our briefer for any last thoughts.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY PYATT: No, well, thank you very much. Again, I really appreciate the opportunity to be with the FPC [Foreign Press Center] today. I would also emphasize -- as I did at the top -- just how central these issues have become to so many of our bilateral relationships. We talked a little bit about Türkiye. I also joined Secretary Blinken yesterday with the Kazakh foreign minister, and I will see Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov later today to talk about another issue that affects the interests of Türkiye, which is our support for Caspian energy diversification as well.

But this has really become a defining aspect of our bilateral relationships around the world, whether it’s how we work with Europe, how we work with our partners in Ukraine, how we work with the developing world on the issues around critical minerals -- and we haven’t talked today about Latin America, haven’t talked so much about Sub-Saharan Africa, but this too remains a very high priority.

And then finally Asia. We’re looking ahead soon to welcoming Japanese Prime Minister Kishida. I was with the Korean ambassador yesterday looking ahead to the U.S.-EU-Korean energy security dialogue [correction: It is the U.S.-Korea energy security dialogue], which will take place in Houston at the end of next month, at the end of April. But what you see is a systematic effort to leverage America’s energy abundance, to advance our national security, but also to reinforce the security of our allies and friends around the world.

MODERATOR: I would like to give special thanks to both our briefer for sharing his time with us today and to all the journalists who participated. This concludes today’s briefing. Thank you.


1 Illustrative quotation: Greek LNG import capacity and regassification capacity remains absolutely vital for the region and forms the basis for the next visionary project in the region’s energy development — the Vertical Corridor. Using existing infrastructure from Greece up to Ukraine, the Vertical Corridor will allow LNG imported through Greece to fill the vast storage tanks in Ukraine, providing a new source of gas for Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and helping to reduce price volatility along the way. It will also be crucial in supporting the EU’s intention to fully decouple from Russian gas by 2027." [Source:]

2 Relevant exchange:

" Q Thanks, Karine. Hey, John, there’s a report that the U.S. is urging Ukraine to stop attacks on Russia’s energy infrastructure out of fear that it’s going to drive up oil prices.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

Q Can you confirm those conversations are happening?

MR. KIRBY: I’m not going to speak to the specifics in that press reporting. The only thing I would tell you is what I’ve said before: We do not encourage or enable the Ukrainian military to conduct strikes inside Russia.

Q But are you concerned about this at all, that these attacks are happening against their energy infrastructure?

MR. KIRBY: We do not encourage or enable Ukraine to strike inside Russia."


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