Victor, International Energy

Victor Manoliu is a graduate in the International Energy Master with concentrations in Russian Studies (politics, foreign policy and economics, as he wanted to better understand the context and trends East of my country) and Energy (there were so many additional interesting courses to take). Apart from Professor Luciani's introductory classes, he particularly enjoyed courses like Mr. Paolo Natali's "Energy Networks", Mr. Thierry Bros' "Gas Investment Evaluation" and Mrs. Tatiana Mitrova's "Energy in Russia and the Former Soviet Union".

Before PSIA, he studied electronics, telecom and software engineering, at the "Politehnica" of Bucharest and TELECOM SudParis Evry, and he worked as a programmer for two years, in the Netherlands. However, he wished to diversify the scope of his work, feeling unfit to work in a purely technical field forever (and he missed Paris), hence his choice for Sciences Po and the energy programme, which somehow blended practical, technical, political and economic notions.

What are you doing for work? How did you secure this role?

The internship I did for the Master's itself was an energy analyst position in the natural gas purchasing team at ENGIE Romania, getting to know the business of natural gas supply in my native country. Aside from daily operations and contacts with market counterparties, my concrete mission was focused on developing a new gas demand forecasting module, to replace the obsolete and inaccurate Excel methods. Eventually, my previous experience as a software engineer helped me carry this out, building an in-house coded platform that uses applied math libraries and can be adapted to any part of the portfolio. Surely enough, I returned there to work as an employee after PSIA, and I am still here now. More than four years on, I have come to learn the details of both Romanian and European gas market principles, concerning trading, transport, networks, regulation, geopolitics and, of course, the role of software and automation.

What is your role and main responsibilities?

ENGIE Romania's gas supply portfolio is roughly focused on the Southern half of the country, including Bucharest and cities like Constanta, Craiova and Brasov. Clients span all categories, from over 1.5 million households to large industrials and thermal/power plants. Romania's national consumption in 2017 was 130 TWh, of which ENGIE traded 35 TWh. Zooming in, I work in the Energy Management department, which basically manages wholesales trading and portfolio optimization). My official title is Forecasting & Balancing Coordinator - with two junior analysts in my team, our work revolves around daily procedures such as gas demand forecasting, short term trading (day-ahead and intraday) to balance our position, but also keeping permanent contact with the gas transport operator (TSO), Transgaz, to make sure volumes are offtaken and delivered as contracted. Since the Romanian gas market is still a developing one, with new infrastructure projects (BRUA) planned, as well as potential huge resources to exploit (in the Black Sea), I also take part in frequent regulatory debates at State institutions, sometimes involving European Commission delegations, exchanging opinions with other market participants (producers, distributors, the TSO, other suppliers etc.) and helping shape new rules for the market.

What is the most fascinating and/or surprising aspect of your role?

Where are positive and negative sides - I am happy to work in my home country, being able to cover a broad spectre of energy market activities (from commercial to IT and regulatory), something which would have been less likely had I worked in a more developed market in Western Europe, where each person is usually specialized on a certain niche. On the negative side, the Romanian energy sector's strategic side (particularly the geopolitics associated with gas sourcing) means there is a strong political influence over the market, and it is sometimes a challenge to understand and keep up with suddenly imposed rules or unexpected changes in national policies.

How did your PSIA experience help you with the role?

I had the fortunate opportunity to build an image of what governs each side of a country's energy sector, so I could easily understand what was going on in the Romanian gas market. Without PSIA courses, which offered me a bigger picture, my initially tedious daily-routine job would have been much more difficult to approach and I would likely have lost interest quite quickly. In this context, what is also clear to me now is that I have a hard time trusting someone who has attained a top management position if they did not start with some operational field/office work before that.

What advice would you give to others?

The energy sector in its entirety being so complex, it is impossible for a Master's programme to help students specialize on a particular topic. What PSIA did was show me the various directions from which I can choose, point from which I could easily understand where and why it would be a good idea to go. So to anyone approaching PSIA believing they will easily find a job afterwards just because they do Sciences Po and because the people teaching there are endowed with some visionary abilities to help each and every student decide exactly what to do, I would say it is actually a good thing that this is not the case - those that teach can only light the many ways forward, but it is the student that must take the initiative and choose one of those ways after careful consideration of all the aspects involved.

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