OPEC Secretary General meets with Energy Charter Head

Vienna, Austria, 14 March 2017--The Secretary General of OPEC, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, met on Monday, 13 March 2017 with the Secretary General of the Energy Charter Dr. Urban Rusnák at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna to discuss rekindling cooperation between the two bodies and future areas of collaboration.

HE Mr. Mohammad Barkindo stated that the Charter plays a very important role today, especially in the current energy landscape, which is very dynamic. He said that OPEC wants to focus on areas of cooperation between the Energy Charter and the OPEC Secretariat.

“I want to work on a relationship between your secretariat and ours…and rekindle this very beneficial relationship,” said HE Mr. Barkindo. The two bodies have several common areas of interest already which can be developed, according to Dr. Rusnák, including OPEC’s involvement with organizations like the International Energy Forum, the International Energy Agency and the European Union, as well as some mutual members.

Dr. Rusnák said there has never before been such a good mutual starting point for the secretariats, and that common interests will be identified. “It is important to pick up one or maximum two priorities and focus on this, then build from there…it’s important to make a more structured cooperation.”

Both Secretary Generals emphasized the importance not only of security of energy supply but security of demand, in order to keep investment steady and minimize future price spikes. HE Mr. Barkindo went on to state that OPEC advocates an all-inclusive process and access to energy for all. “The Energy Transition must be an all-inclusive agenda and process...With climate change issues, we need to embark on a transition going forward,” he said. “For many of our Member Countries access to energy is still a big challenge. We should not crowd out the two billion people who have no access to energy.”

Dr. Rusnák stated the Energy Charter is mostly interested in regulatory frameworks. Legal frameworks are a common concern, and all countries have the same challenge; finding regulation that fits their current needs, he said.

The Energy Charter is technically neutral and doesn’t advocate any fuel, stated Dr. Rusnák. “It is up to the members to decide what energy mix suits them best, it is in their hands and we help them deal with key issues regarding energy security.”

He invited the OPEC Secretary General to attend the Energy Charter conference in Turkmenistan on 28-29 of November.

OPEC’s Mr. Oswaldo Tapia stated that topics from earlier cooperation will be reviewed and progress can be made on cooperation within the current Work Program. HE Mr. Barkindo asked that a “shopping list” be created of possible areas of cooperation in the short, medium and long term.

The Energy Charter Treaty provides a multilateral framework for energy cooperation that is unique under international law. It is designed to promote energy security through the operation of more open and competitive energy markets, while respecting the principles of sustainable development and sovereignty over energy resources. The fundamental aim of the Energy Charter Treaty is to strengthen the rule of law on energy issues, by creating a level playing field of rules to be observed by all participating governments, thereby mitigating risks associated with energy-related investment and trade.

Since assuming the office of Secretary General in January 2012, Dr. Rusnák has focused his efforts on the modernization of the Energy Charter Process, and on updating institutional arrangements for the Conference. The culmination of the modernization efforts has been the adoption of the International Energy Charter in May 2015. This is a new political declaration which addresses the energy challenges of the 21st century.

Two OPEC Member Countries are signatories to the International Energy Charter and eight OPEC Member Countries are observers to the Energy Charter Conference.

Dr. Urban Rusnák, Secretary General of the Energy Charter (r), with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General

Dr. Urban Rusnák, Secretary General of the Energy Charter (r), with HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, OPEC Secretary General