Talks suspended on Transit Protocol

OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 18 -- Negotiations among 51 European and Asian nations on a legally binding international agreement on energy transit issues were suspended during an Energy Charter Conference (ECC) meeting in Brussels.

It became clear on Dec. 10 that a unanimous decision to adopt the agreement, known as the Transit Protocol to the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), could not be achieved on the basis of a final compromise text, an Energy Charter news release said.

Negotiations started in 2000 on the Transit Protocol, which was intended to build on existing ECT transit-related provisions. The protocol would have involved enhanced rules under international law governing energy transit flows across national borders. Agreement was reached on most of the text by Dec. 31, 2002 (OGJ, Oct. 20, 2003, p. 60).

The few outstanding issues related to differences between the European Union and Russia.

"Under these circumstances, I consider, as chairman, that there is no purpose to be served by continuing the negotiation process at this time. Nonetheless, we have not closed the door on the negotiations forever, and I have tasked the Energy Charter Secretariat with reporting back to the next meeting of the Charter Conference in June 2004 regarding the prospects for completing our work on the draft protocol," said Henning Christophersen, ECC chairman.

Meanwhile, governments still need to create a multilateral framework of rules on transit issues, particularly problems affecting energy flows in pipelines and grids, he said.


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