Energy Charter Calls For GCC Accession

The Belgium-based Energy Charter, a unique institution for the promotion of international cooperation in the energy sector, has planned to hold talks with the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to negotiate their accession. Saudi Arabia and the five Gulf countries are not signatories to the Energy Charter Treaty, but they hold observer status of the Charter that provides a multilateral framework for energy cooperation on global level.

“The Energy Charter Treaty, which has been signed by 51 countries, so far, provides a binding framework for the entire energy chain, including not only the protection of energy investments but also the terms under which energy can be traded and transported,” said Ambassador Andre Mernier, secretary-general of the Energy Charter. He was speaking to newsmen after delivering “the Fourth International Energy Forum (IEF) Lecture” here yesterday.

The lecture session was chaired by Ambassador Arne Walther, IEF’s secretary-general, who also spoke on the occasion. The event was attended by a number of energy experts, Saudi and foreign delegates, diplomats and IEF personnel. Pascal Marie Laffont, a senior expert at the Energy Charter Secretariat, accompanied Mernier.

Referring to the benefits to be derived by the Gulf countries from the Energy Charter Treaty, Mernier said “this unique legal framework in the form of a treaty is proving to be of increasing interest for the new non-member countries, particularly in Asia,” referring to the treaty and the Energy Charter Protocol on Energy Efficiency and Related Environmental Aspects that entered into force in April 1998.

“The fundamental aim is to strengthen the rule of law on energy issues,” he said. “This will mitigate risks associated with energy-related investments and trade,” said Mernier. “This is because they provide investors with the possibility to protect their rights by taking the host government to international arbitration,” said the Energy Charter chief.

adding that “the Charter is the only structure legally binding in terms of energy in the world today.”

The treaty, he said, has already been joined by big supplier and consumer countries like Russia, Japan and Pakistan. He said his visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar during the current leg of his journey is to “attract the attention of the governments to the possibility of their accession to the treaty.” “The treaty, in fact, underscores the need for conducive mechanisms of cooperation, development of cross-border infrastructure as well as common and transparent rules to ensure the reliability of energy flows,” said IEF chief Ambassador Arne Walther in his speech.

The IEF chief pointed out that a meeting of the “IEF Informal Support Group of Countries” will be convened in late April here to seek advice on the themes of the 11th international energy forum. This annual dialogue will be held in Rome in April next year. The event will be co-sponsored by India and Mexico together with Italy. Walther and Mernier said that they will also be holding talks on how to forge closer cooperation between the IEF and the Brussels-based Energy Charter.

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