Energy Charter offers OPEC observer status

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Jan. 29 -- Energy Charter Sec. Gen. Ria Kemper has said her organization would like to offer the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries observer status as outlined by the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).

In efforts to promote an institutional relationship between OPEC and the Energy Charter Conference (ECC), Kemper said the Energy Charter welcomed OPEC member countries as well as OPEC as an organization.

Seven of the 11 OPEC member countries already have individual observer status in ECC, with Iran most recently granted observer status (OGJ Online, Dec. 23, 2002).

The ECC is the governing body of an intergovernmental organization devoted to promoting East-West energy cooperation among its 51 European and Asian member states.

Kemper recently visited Vienna where she attended a workshop on OPEC and the ECC.
She later spoke with OPEC News Agency.

Kemper said oil and natural gas exporting countries gain advantages by joining the ECC. For instance, membership encourages the flow of international capital and Western investment, to help develop the countries' oil and gas potential.

Kemper told OPECNA that the treaty, which was built on the principle of openness, nondiscrimination, and market orientation, recognized individual nations' rights to control their natural resources.

It also upholds nations' access to free commodity markets, especially for the gas-producing states, she said in the interview. The treaty, by its structure, maintains a pioneering role in terms of treaty-based international energy cooperation, Kemper said.

"As we see it, the treaty embodies a balanced approach to the creation of attractive investment conditions in producer states, promoting the interests of both foreign investors and host governments," she told OPECNA.

Kemper said the charter was not intended for adoption exclusively within Europe, adding, "Our geopolitical scope as an organization is by now truly 'Eurasian' in nature. We believe that a targeted further expansion of the charter's membership would be in the interest of global energy security."

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