Interview with Goran Radosavljević, Secretary General of the National Petroleum Committee of Serbia

Goran Radosavljević is Secretary General of the National Petroleum Committee of Serbia and Professor of Public Finance and Microeconomics at FEFA Faculty in Belgrade.

You have been Secretary General of the National Petroleum Committee of Serbia since 2014. What have been the key directions of activities and main accomplishments of the Committee in the past cycle? 

The National Petroleum Committee of Serbia is one of the youngest members of the World Petroleum Council. Yet, since the onset of its activities in 2011, the Committee has managed to affirm itself as an association catalyzing dialogue among key stakeholders on the national, but also regional petroleum market. The success we have achieved so far is maintained by our continuous efforts to always look a step farther and try to proactively approach the goals ahead of us.

The principal goals set for the period 2014-2017 included, first and foremost, improving the functioning of the oil and oil products market in Serbia, the transfer of knowledge and best international practices to Serbia and protection of its members’ interests in the country and abroad, with special focus on regional cooperation. In addition, the NNKS-WPC set as its goal to become a forum for key stakeholders on the oil market (economy, academic and professional public and state institutions). From today’s perspective, it is safe to say that the NNKS-WPC has fulfilled all those goals.

We have supported the development of the oil sector in Serbia, primarily through cooperation with the competent ministries (in charge of energy and trade) and realization of four international cooperation projects for the transfer of best practices from the EU to Serbia related to combatting grey economy and fight against illegal trade, as well as the introduction of EU fuel quality and environment protection standards.

On a regional level, we have also supported oil and gas companies in Bosnia and Hercegovina to create the Petroleum Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to join the WPC network. Finally, we organized a very successful WPC Expert Workshop on “Perspectives of the Petroleum Industry in the Future Energy Mix” in 2016 in Belgrade, presented NNKS in 22nd World Petroleum Congress in July 2017 in Istanbul. I think that best result of our dedicated work in the previous cycle our participation in the Program Committee for 23rd World Petroleum Congress in Houston 2020.

Having in mind the established frameworks of cooperation and knowledge-sharing mechanisms within the National Petroleum Committee of Serbia in the 2014-2017 cycle, what will be the strategic directions of activities of the Committee for the coming period?

We have not amended our strategic plans for the coming years. In the forthcoming period, we will continue navigating our activities towards facilitating dialogue with key national stakeholders, expanding dialogue with other petroleum committees through regional and transnational projects and initiatives, as well as actively participating and contributing to the global agenda of the World Petroleum Council.

We also added one more strategic direction – the promotion of young professionals. We have formed this year our new Young Professionals Committee with more than 40 young members, both from the corporate sector and academia. The first joint activity of the newly formed Young Professionals Committee team shall hosting of the international conference “Tomorrow’s Leaders Symposium” in September. Our next goal, after the TLS conference will be to strengthen regional cooperation among young professionals.

In addition to your engagement in the Committee, you are university professor of economics and former State Secretary at Serbian Ministry of Finance. With this valuable cross-sectoral experience, how do you view the oil and gas industry?

Oil and gas industry is highly linked with academia and government. Oil and gas companies are very active in Serbia in supporting education, both secondary and tertiary. Industry-academia cooperation programmes, among which I would specifically single out the “Energy of Knowledge” corporate programme of NIS, develop diverse mechanisms to support the education sector both on institutional level, but also through support to exceptional students. On the other side, oil and gas companies are important for state (more than 15% of all tax revenues in Serbia are paid by O&G companies), but also highly depend on state regulations and business environment. Having in mind all three perspectives, this gives you better a view of this sector especially of necessity of close cooperation between oil and gas companies, academia and state institutions. Sometimes interest is not the same, the WPC system and its associate national committees like NNKS can help to facilitate communication and identify joint interests.

How can links between the education sector and the market needs be strengthened to benefit the development of the industry?

As I have mentioned, the “Energy of Knowledge” project conducted by NIS in Serbia is a very good example of collaboration betwee the academic and corporate sector. However, that is only one segment of cooperation. I think that the academia can help the industry in its transformation process by leading the R&D activities in the sector. At the same time, academia needs precise inputs and process data from industry in order to direct its R&D, create syllabuses and teach workforce with needed skills. The industry needs also fresh human capital, as many of today’s leaders will be retired in next 10-15 years. Market needs in next 10-15 years will also be different and if we do not cooperate today creating that workforce, industry will not be ready to respond to future challenges.

As host of the upcoming WPC “Tomorrow’s Leaders Symposium” in Belgrade, what is your message to the conference participants?

Serbia has for centuries been the crossroads between the East and the West. I hope that even during a short visit to Belgrade for our conference, the guests will feel and enjoy this cultural mix in Serbia –  from architecture to the national cuisine and open friendly mentality of our people. Belgrade itself is on the confluence of two major European rivers, the Danube and the Sava, and we are hoping to make the TLS event also a confluence of good and progressive ideas. We look forward to welcoming you all!