Ashgabat, 30 November 2017 (nCa) — the 28th meeting of the Energy Charter Conference, held in Ashgabat on 29 November 2017, concluded with noticeably enhanced climate for investor confidence and very solid progress toward the creation of a global mechanism for the safe and reliable transit of energy resources across borders.
Urban Rusnak, the secretary general of the Energy Charter, who has shepherded six annual conferences in his present capacity, described it as ‘one of the most successful’ events of Energy Charter.
The success or otherwise of such events is always a mix of tangible and intangible components. The end-of-the-event press conference is usually the opportunity to pin the tangibles and the informal interaction with the participants and organizers during breaks is the chance to catch a glimpse of the intangibles.
This event delivered on both.
As far as tangible progress is concerned, the Ashgabat Energy Charter Declaration (full text of which is given in this report) is proof positive that Energy Charter is already a platform for jointly addressing the concerns and interests of the energy producers, transit countries, consumers, and investors.
The Declaration which describes itself as a “strategic mid-term document towards the next review to be undertaken in 2019,” carries the promise of totally revamping the Energy Charter to suit the hopes and aspirations of not just the members but the countries and entities that are a part of the energy mix in one way or the other.
From the Declaration, we can also see that the creation of a global mechanism for safe and reliable transit of energy resources across diverse borders may become a reality in the foreseeable future.
Urban Rusnak said during the press conference that the contracting parties agreed to deliver on the Ashgabat Declaration. He said that there was wide awareness of the need to move forward, including the modernization of the treaty.
Answering a question by nCa about the creation of a global mechanism for safe and reliable transit of energy resources, Rusnak said that the contracting parties had come to the conclusion that the work will continue on the overall modernization of the Energy Charter Treaty. He said that as of today a self-standing agreement on transit is not clearly visible but it will be a part of the future negotiations of the Energy Charter Treaty. Article 7 of the treaty is about transit, he added.
In conversations with the Energy Charter officials and participants, nCa learned that the expansion of the organization – seven more entries during the chairmanship of Turkmenistan – is automatically creating the space for global energy partnership.
Dr. Marat Terternov, the knowledge centre coordinator of Energy Charter, told nCa that any possible instrument on investor confidence was not on the agenda of this conference because it is a halfway house to the review that will take place in 2019. However, his remarks implied that the bilateral and multilateral processes that are currently in place for the investments in the energy infrastructure projects would continue and some of their elements could eventually reflect in the modernized Energy Charter Treaty.
A later conversation with Rusnak added to this assumption. He said that it is the sovereign decision of each and every country to join the Energy Charter or to take more time to evaluate the needs and benefits considering their own national interests.
The logical extension of this line of thought of the Energy Charter officials is that the more countries join the Energy Charter, the better prospects we have for creating a safe and reliable global system of the transit of energy resources, across borders, where each border poses its own peculiar challenges. BY default, it would also contribute to investor confidence.
Why? ——- 1. If the investors, producers, transit countries and consumers are on the same platform that clearly defines its terms and conditions (and they undertake to adhere by those terms and conditions on joining), it is already halfway to consensus on safety of energy resources in transit; 2. Investors will have more confidence in a deal where all parties are signatories to the same code of conduct; 3. Because of the expanded membership of the Energy Charter, the members will usually have overlapping roles as investors, producers, transit territories, and consumers. By looking after the interests of others, they would automatically be safeguarding their own interests.
Another important take-home insight, as gained by conversation with Energy Charter officials was that some countries that are important to the energy mix in the Eurasian landmass, are looking from the sidelines now but may change their mind and join the platform once they see the modernization of Energy Charter taking shape. /// nCa
Here is a short report by foreign office of Turkmenistan:
On November 29, 2017, the 28th session of the Energy Charter Conference under the theme “Mobilizing Investments for Sustainable Energy of the Future and Diversifying Transport Routes” continued its work at the Oguzkent Hotel.
The Ministerial part of the 28th session of the Energy Charter Conference served as a platform for decision-makers at the highest level and leaders of energy enterprises to engage in policy dialogue on sustainable energy investments, reliable transit and diversification of supply routes and energy sources within the International Energy Community Charter.
During the session, the Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan M.Babayev, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia M.Janelidze, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, Secretary General of the International Energy Charter U.Rusnak made their presentations.
Chairman of the Energy Charter Conference, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan M. Babayev summing up the results of Turkmenistan’s chairmanship in the Energy Charter, listed the measures taken by Turkmenistan to ensure comprehensive and indivisible energy security. He said that the geography of membership in the Energy Charter is also expanding, that at the present time the appeals of several other countries are being considered. Turkmenistan considers diversification of the transport infrastructure as one of the main tasks in the sphere of energy security. “The implementation of this strategic direction assumes a comprehensive development of energy cooperation not only between the energy supplier countries, their transit countries and consumers, but also by interested parties and international organizations, in particular the UN and the Energy Charter,” M.Babayev said.
Secretary General of the International Energy Charter Urban Rusnak said that in many countries energy policy reforms are being carried out. He believes that the Energy Charter Treaty should be modernized, that there is a great potential for attracting investments in the development of energy.
Speaking at the session, OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger praised Turkmenistan’s chairmanship in the Energy Charter, and said that this country plays a significant role in maintaining stability in the Central Asian region. Speaking about the fact that the OSCE has been dealing with energy security issues for several years, Greminger said that geopolitical competition requires political cooperation in matters of energy security.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Georgia Mikheil Janelidze said that joining the Southern Gas Corridor would allow Turkmenistan to transport its gas to Turkey and Europe. M.Janelidze also touched upon the TAPI project – a gas pipeline being built between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. In the context of energy transfer from the region to Europe, the politician stressed the particular importance of such projects as the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, the Transatlantic Gas Pipeline, and the Trans Adriatic Gas Pipeline.
Expressing gratitude to the Government of Turkmenistan and personally to the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for the support provided during the 28th session of the Energy Charter Conference and appreciating the efforts to strengthen the role of the International Energy Charter during the Turkmenistan Chairmanship, the participants in the 28th session of the Energy Charter Conference adopted Ashgabat Declaration of the Energy Charter as a strategic medium-term document until the next review to be undertaken in 2019.
Then a press conference was held, during which representatives of Turkmenistan, Japan, Romania and the Secretary General of the International Energy Charter made statements. /// MFA Turkmenistan
Ashgabat Energy Charter Declaration
We, the Members of the Energy Charter Conference assembled in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on 29 November 2017 for the 28th Meeting of the Energy Charter Conference with attendance of high-level representatives from 52 countries of different regions of the world and 10 international organizations,
Welcoming that the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Republic of Kenya, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Mali, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, and the Republic of Gambia signed the International Energy Charter in 2017 and thus became Observers to the Conference,
Reiterating commitment to the Energy Charter Treaty and the principles of the 2015 International Energy Charter,
Acknowledging the important role of the Energy Charter Treaty for the promotion of energy security through energy trade, transit, investment promotion and protection, and energy efficiency,
Recalling the Tokyo Declaration of the 27th meeting of the Energy Charter Conference adopted in 2016, and final documents of preceding Meetings of Energy Charter Conference,
Recalling also the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on ‘Reliable and Stable Transit of Energy and its Role in Ensuring Sustainable Development and International Cooperation’ of 2008 and 2013, and welcoming Ashgabat International Energy Charter Forum entitled ‘Towards a Multilateral Framework Agreement on Transit of Energy Resources’ which recognized importance of transit of global energy issues,
Recognizing the essential role of energy for improving the quality of life,
Emphasizing that the Energy Charter Process must reflect new developments and challenges in international energy markets by promoting the core values of the Energy Charter,
Emphasizing that the modernization of the Energy Charter Process is key to ensuring that is fulfills its potential to strengthen long-term cooperation in the energy field and contributes to enhancing energy security,
Recognizing that investments in energy sector, effectively utilizing different types of energy resources and technologies with consequent changes in investment flows and patterns, are required to achieve countries’ commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement in line with their goals and principles, including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances,
Emphasizing the importance of fostering innovation in developing energy resources, technologies, technological applications and business models that enable accelerated delivery of global Sustainable Development Goals,
Stressing that energy sector investments are best served by a stable, predictable and non-discriminatory regulatory framework while recognizing that Governments have the right to regulate to achieve legitimate policy objectives,
Underlining that disputes are bet prevented and, if they occur, resolved efficiently and, where possible, amicably,
Taking into account the work conducted by and underlining the need to increase synergy with regional and global institutions,
Recognizing the Energy Charter Secretariat’s efforts to implement Energy Charter Treaty’s core tasks,
Expressing gratitude to the Government of Turkmenistan and personally to the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, for the support provided for convening of the 28th meeting of the Energy Charter Conference and commending the efforts in enhancing the role of the International Energy Charter throughout the year of the Chairmanship of Turkmenistan.
- The Ashgabat Energy Charter Declaration, as a strategic mid-term document towards the next review to be undertaken in 2019, in accordance with Article 34(7) of the Energy Charter Treaty.
Facilitating investment, preventing and managing investment related disputes
- We recognize that as countries modernize and transition their energy systems according to their national circumstances, needs and priorities, aligned with international commitments to mitigate climate change and achieve Sustainable Development Goals, the Energy Charter Process contributes to enabling the large flow of investment needed and improving business environment.
- We acknlowldge that promoting quality infrastructure investments is essential for bridging the existing energy infrastructure gap in the world.
- We welcome the preparatory work of the Energy Charter Secretariat and acknowledge its continued efforts to develop a new publicly available flagship publication, the Energy Investment Risk Assessment, which will assist interested countries in minimizing investment-related regulatory risks, thereby enabling an optimization of investment flows.
- We underline the importance of industry’s involvement in the Energy Charter Process and welcome the recent activities of the Energy Charter Industry Advisory Panel.
- We acknowledge continued efforts by the Energy Charter Secretariat on dispute prevention and the possibility of amicable dispute resolution, mediation and legal training.
Continuing to broaden and deepen membership of the Energy Charter Treaty
- We encourage the State signatories of the European Energy Charter or the International Energy Charter to accede to the Energy Charter Treaty and stand ready to assist respective countries in this process.
- We acknowledge the work of the Energy Charter Secretariat in facilitating the accession process that countries choosing to accede to the Treaty are required to undertake.
Improving energy security through strengthened international cooperation to guarantee energy transit and facilitate trade
- We recognize the role of Energy Charter Process in enhancing regional and international energy cooperation, facilitating interconnectivity and promoting open and competitive energy markets in order to ensure universal access to sustainable energy sources, except for circumstances generating concerns for international security and national security of the involved states, thus reinforcing energy security.
- We acknowledge that natural gas can play an important and effective role in moving towards a low greenhouse-gas (GHG) emission energy future and we believe that a well-functioning, transparent and competitive global gas market including LNG trading hubs should be further developed.
- We welcome the work on energy transit under the Chairmanship of Turkmenistan and will continue our work on transit issues with a view to supporting diversified energy sources and supply routes and secure, reliable and sustainable energy transportation.
Modernizing the Energy Charter Process
- We continue efforts to make further progress in the modernization of the Energy Chrter Process as appropriate in order to meet our common objectives and with a focus on the Energy Charter Treaty’s core business.
- Contracting Parties to the Energy Charter Teat will seek to launch a dialogue with the aim of exploring the potential update and modernization of Energy Charter Treaty.
Promoting regional energy cooperation on the basis of the principels of the International Energy Charter and Energy Charter Treaty
- We encourage the work of the Energy Charter Secretariat in promoting and integrating regional energy markets for long-term energy sustainability and building energy resilience, and note the relevance of these regional activities to facilitation and promotion of strategic infrasteuctuwe projects aimed on delivering secure, sustainable and competitive energy to the customers.
Done at Ashgabat on 29 November 2017