Iran considers participating in the Energy Charter

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Nov. 11 -- Iran is considering possible participation in the Energy Charter, an inter-governmental organization devoted to promoting East-West energy cooperation among its 51 European and Asian member states.

Upon the invitation of the Iranian government, Secretary General of the Energy Charter Secretariat Ria Kemper visited with numerous energy officials in Tehran Nov. 5-7.

Meetings included sessions with Began Agene, petroleum minister, and Mir Moezi, president of the National Iranian Oil Co. Discussions focused on the Energy Charter's promotion of international cooperation regarding energy trade, transit, investments, and energy efficiency (OGJ, Mar. 4, 2002, p. 20).

Procedures for accession to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) by non-member states also were discussed. Kemper said a nation could convey a positive signal to the international community of investors by signing up to the ECT's rules on investment protection and non-discrimination.

Member states already include all the countries of the former Soviet Union. Iran is the only littoral state of the Caspian Sea that is not a member of the Energy Charter process.

"The Energy Charter offers its member-governments a forum for discussions on energy policy matters, in particular with regard to the security of oil and gas exports from emerging production areas in the Caspian basin and Central Asia," Kemper said.

"As an important producer-state, but also as a potential transit route to world markets for Central Asian energy resources, Iran in my view has a clear interest in participating in these discussions within the charter's framework," she added.

As a next step in developing its relations with the charter, Kemper invited the Iranian government to consider applying for observer status at the Energy Charter Conference, the organization's governing body.

If such an application were accepted, Iran would become the seventh OPEC member-country to be granted observership at the Energy Charter. The others are Algeria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Venezuela.

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