Negotiations on energy charter set to continue beyond deadline

Oct 12, 2001 02:00 AM

Negotiations on an inter-governmental agreement designed to promote the security of energy transit, which were scheduled for completion in October, are set to continue beyond the envisaged deadline. This was announced by former EU Commission Vice-President Henning Christophersen, Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference -- an intergovernmental organization focusing on energy cooperation in which 51 European and Asian states participate -- following the Conference's latest meeting in Brussels on 11th October.
The agreement, known as the Energy Charter Transit Protocol, aims to establish a new set of rules under international law for its Signatory states regarding flows of oil, gas and electricity crossing their territory in transit. Negotiations on the Protocol have been under way since early 2000.

According to Christophersen, many of the issues at stake in the negotiations have already been resolved. "Moreover, all our member states have reconfirmed their commitment to continue the negotiation process and finalise the Protocol as soon as possible. However, we still need to find compromise solutions acceptable to all delegations on certain key issues. In doing so, it is vital that we ensure that the Transit Protocol remains a balanced document, reflecting the interests of consumer states, producers, and transit countries".
The aim of the Transit Protocol is to build on the existing transit-related provisions of the 1994 Energy Charter Treaty, a multilateral legal foundation for cooperation in the energy sector. In particular, the Protocol is designed to strengthen the obligation on states to prevent unlawful taking of energy in transit; establish clear criteria to be applied when offering available capacity for transit in national pipeline and grid systems to interested third parties; clarify the terms on which transit tariffs are to be calculated; and ensure that the legitimate supply needs of transit states are taken into account.

Christophersen underlined the continued political interest of the Energy Charter's member states, both in eastern and western Europe, in seeing the Transit Protocol concluded as early as possible. "There is a widely recognized need to establish clearer "rules of the game" for transit flows of energy, in particular among the states of the former USSR -- this is in the common interest both of oil and gas producer states and of those countries through which such resources must pass in transit."
"At the same time, we are witnessing increased political focus within the EU on the need to strengthen the security of supply of Western Europe, inter alia through the creation of a solid legal basis for energy imports involving transit across a "chain" of countries. In both cases, the Transit Protocol promises to make a substantial contribution to securing the common objectives of our member governments", noted Christophersen.

Source: Energy Charter Secretariat Brussels
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