Youth Day: Energy Challenge as the part of the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum

This year the project brought together young professionals from 11 countries.

This year the project brought together young professionals from 11 countries.

On October 1-3, 2019 the final events of the project of Youth Day: Energy Challenge were held at the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum (SPIGF 2019). It is the 5th jubilee edition of the project.

The organiser of event is Higher Economic School of St. Petersburg State University of Economics (HES UNECON) under the support of organizations members of International Business Congress (IBC): Gazprom, Gasunie, OMV AG, Uniper SE, Wintershall Dea, Shell as well as with partnership of Energy Delta Institute (EDI), European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), Schneider Electric, Siemens, VNG AG and Expoforum International.

The main objective of Youth Day project is the providing of interactive educational platform united industry experts and talented youth from all around the world for transfer of knowledge about energy business and search of new ideas and solutions.

In 2019 the Youth Day project was carried out in a new format of Energy Challenge. It held two successive stages:

  1. 3-month online educational program at the Virtual Academy.
  2. 3-days meeting at the Youth Day of the 9th St. Petersburg International Gas Forum.

The participants of the project are talented master and post-graduate students from all over the world, experts and executives of major international energy companies, as well as representatives of the academic community.

More than 500 applications were submitted for participation in the Youth Day 2019. 223 students from 56 universities in 17 countries were invited to online educational program "Role of Gas in the Energy Balance" at the Virtual Academy.

Five training modules were conducted from April to July 2019. The students participated in 15 interactive webinars held by experts from the world's leading energy companies, listened 2 video lectures, studied additional materials on oil and gas topics, completed 3 assignment (challenges) and presented their final #project_challenge. Based on the results of the Virtual Academy, 60 best students from 31 universities in 11 countries were invited to St. Petersburg to participate in the Youth Day of the 9th SPIGF on October 1-3, 2019.

Three days of the Youth Day program were full of formal and informal activities. On October 1 at the opening ceremony Elena Kasyan, Head of Department in Gazprom, and Yana Klementovichus, Director of HES UNECON addressed their welcome speech to participants.

To get to know each other, to identify leadership and teamwork skills, the participants played the #timbildingconstructor. Students from 11 countries, meeting for the first time, were able not only to establish a well-coordinated work, but also to set a record of the game to start the mechanism of the assembled construction by the first attempt. 

The second half of the first day was moderated by Vitaly Stelmashonok, PhD, Associate Professor of Innovation Management Chair of UNECON. He held SPIGF exhibition quest “In search for collaboration”. All participants were divided into 6 teams. Following the task, students had to visit various stands of energy companies and, after talking to their representatives, find ideas for cooperation. Finally, all the project proposals were presented and evaluated by the opponent teams. 

The whole day of October 2, was dedicated to the business game "Charge the City", moderated by:

  • Christoph Burger, Senior Professor, ESMT
  • Natalia Sarakhanova, Scientific Researcher, HES UNECON
  • Pavel Metelev, Deputy Director, HES UNECON
  • Rob Veersma, Director Training & Development, Gazprom International Training B.V.

The game simulated the situations of uncertainty and variability typical for taking final investment decisions (FID) on energy markets. Participants had to find a way of providing electricity to a large city district. Moreover, the game was dynamic, the original conditions of the initial task has been changing during the game. The team’s solution should meet the expectations of all stakeholders as much as possible.

Experts from leading energy companies gave their consultations to the teams:

  • Julia Boermann, Senior Expert Strategy & Portfolio, Wintershall Dea
  • Dietrich Jochim, Senior Specialist Gas Purchase Russia, Gas Procurement, VNG Handel & Vertrieb
  • Alexey Koshelets, Head of Division (Strategy), Gazprom
  • Irina Kuznetsova, Specif er Leader for strategic projects, Schneider Electric
  • Jan Paul, Chief Scientist and Technology Manager, OMV Russia Upstream      
  • Konstantin Romanov, Head of Division (Green Innovations), Gazprom
  • Grigory Shevchenko, Business Development Manager, Uniper Global Commodities

In the final of the game, the teams presented their solutions to the stakeholders of the city (jury):

  • Britta van Boven, Director Strategy and Gas Business Development, Head of Representation in Russia, Gasunie
  • Lars Drage, Head of Exploration, Development and Production, OMV Russia Upstream
  • Margarita Hoffmann,Senior Vice President, Business Unit Midstream, Wintershall Dea
  • Marcel Kramer, President, EDI
  • Olga Orlova, Executive Director, Endowment Fund of UNECON
  • Maxim Nedzvetsky, Director General, Gazprom VNIIGAZ
  • Detlef Wessling, Head of technical cooperation, Uniper Global Commodities

3 teams with the best presentations shared the podium.

On October 3, after the plenary session of the SPIGF 2019, there was the key event of the Youth Day - Off-Tie Meeting with executives of energy companies on the topic “How to be competitive in 10 years and beyond?” The event was opened by Sergey Khomyakov, Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee of PJSC Gazprom, who also awarded certificates of honor to the best 7 students according to the individual rating based on results of the Virtual Academy and Gas Forum events.

Then the speakers - top managers of the leading energy companies – took their places on the stage:

  • Elena Burmistrova, Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, Gazprom
  • Andreas Schierenbeck, Chief Executive Officer, Uniper SE
  • Mario MEHREN, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Wintershall Dea GmbH
  • Han FENNEMA, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO, N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie
  • Cederic CREMERS, President and Country Chair, Shell Russia
  • Thomas Morris, Senior Vice President of OMV Russia Upstream GmbH

The meeting was moderated by Pevel Metelev, Deputy Director of HES UNECON and Rob Veersma, Training and Development Director in Gazprom International Training B.V.

After the welcome speeches the executives came down and joined one team each. For 15 minutes, they discussed various topics with students. Together they tryed to solve important dilemmas that energy industry faces: energy transition, digitalization, war for talents, environmental concerns, securing energy supply and energy security. All the dilemmas were united by the key topic of the Meeting: “What steps should companies take right now to be competitive in 2029 and beyond?”

Then each team made a short presentation on its dilemma, receiving comments and questions from speakers and other participants.

A special support to the Youth Day was provided by the Rector of UNECON, Igor Maximtsev at the end of the Off-Tie Meeting. On behalf of the organisers he thanked all participants and partners of the project.


BLUE CORRIDOR – GAS INTO ENGINES 2019 came to finish at ExpoForum

The International Rally BLUE CORRIDOR – GAS INTO ENGINES 2019 that had started on August 29 in Turkey, triumphantly came to finish on October 3 at St. Petersburg International Gas Forum.

The International Rally BLUE CORRIDOR – GAS INTO ENGINES 2019 that had started on August 29 in Turkey, triumphantly came to finish on October 3 at St. Petersburg International Gas Forum.

On September 20 at Lubmin (Germany) via a video link, participants of the Russian stage of the race took over from the European-stage crews that had travelled 5,320 kilometers from Istanbul  to Lubmin between August 29 and September 20.

The Russian section of the race began at the Russkaya Compressor Station (the Krasnodar Territory), the start point of the TurkStream, and followed to the start point of the Nord Stream-2 at the south coast of the Gulf of Finland not far from Ust Luga. The Russian section of the race was 2,760 kilometers long. In 10 days, the participants drove across the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod, Moscow, Novgorod and Leningrad Regions. Fueling the vehicles with natural gas was, in particular, provided at 13 CNG filling stations.

The European route started at Istanbul, and then via the Balkans it took the participants to Italy, Belgium, Austria, and Germany.

The finish ceremony of the BLUE CORRIDOR – GAS INTO ENGINES 2019 Rally was participated by Victor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gazprom; Uwe Fip, Senior Vice President Gas Supply & Origination, Uniper SE; Vitaly Markelov, Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee, Gazprom; Vyacheslav Mikhalenko, Member of the Management Committee, Gazprom; Oleg Melekhin, CEO, Gazprom Gas-Engine Fuel.

The rally finishing ceremony started with presentation of the participants – the vehicles that travelled along the Russian part of BLUE CORRIDOR using compressed natural gas. The list was rather patriotic: compact LADA Vesta, bi-fuel minivan LADA Largus, cargo GASon NEXT, and bus  Lotos. The German Volkswagen took part in the Rally over Russia to emphasize cooperation of Germany and Uniper SE under the project BLUE CORRIDOR – GAS INTO ENGINES.

Victor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gazprom, remarked that “natural gas is the best engine fuel.” He added that in the past 4 years, Gazprom built 86 gas fuelling stations, and by the end of 2019 another 43 facilities were going to be completed.

Uwe Fip, Senior Vice President Gas Supply & Origination, Uniper SE congratulated the crews on finishing and said that he believes, compressed natural gas is especially suitable for light vehicles.



For the 1st time, the International Rally BLUE CORRIDOR was arranged in 2008 by Gazprom Group. In 2010, Uniper SE joined the project as a co-organizer. Later, other participants of the European and Russian gas and car markets pitched in.

During the existence time of the project, it was participated by a total of 200+ factory-made gas vehicles using compressed and liquefied natural gas. They drove 60+ thousand kilometers across Europe and Asia, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.

Uniper SE is an energy company focusing on natural gas, electric energy production and global energy trade.

Gas Forum is the leading venue to discuss topical issues of the industry. During the Forum industry leaders make their decisions that provide direct impact on formation of the global gas market.

Among Forum participants – top managers of large world leaders on the oil and gas market, representatives of the innovation centers and design institutes, industry experts, academicians, heads of specialised universities and research institutions.

The Forum is supported by federal and regional authorities: Ministry of energy of the Russian Federation, Ministry of industry and trade of the Russian Federation, Administration of St. Petersburg, and Russian and foreign industry associations.

One site taking together representatives of state authority bodies, key international and Russian business communitiesand representatives of the R&D communities and design institutes can discuss global tendencies and state policy in the gas sector and many other actual problems.


The St. Petersburg International Gas Forum dates back from 2011. The principal objective of the Forum is to provide a platform for substantive dialogue between leaders of gas industry.

The Forum is by rights a unique gas industry event in Russia: besides an extensive exhibition program, every year the Forum provides a convention program that ensures substantive discussion of the most acute and pressing issues.



Dialogue between global gas companies and key partners
Elaboration of strategic solutions


Among Forum participants – top managers and decision-makers of major industrial companies
99% of visitors are industry experts


Expoforum – a modern venue for the international dialogue, cooperation and exchange of best practices

Saint-Petersburg, Peterburgskoye highway 64/1

EXPOFORUM, pavilion F, G, H, congress center


October 6–9, 2020

 10:00 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.