OPEC looks to expand legal team for energy transition challenge

Grant Smith, Bloomberg November 16, 2023

(Bloomberg) — OPEC is seeking to expand its legal team as the oil producer group prepares for challenges posed by the global shift away from fossil fuels.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wants to hire a new senior legal adviser as well as a legal specialist, according to postings on the Vienna-based group’s website. 

The oil industry has faced criticism from clean energy advocates, activists and pro-green politicians as governments try to pivot away from dirty fuels to avert catastrophic climate change. Even as the world doubles down on clean energy, OPEC sees oil demand rising through to the middle of the century.

The appointments are for “matters related to international law and energy transition law” as the organization seeks a “balanced legal approach” to issues such as climate, OPEC General Counsel Leonardo Sempertegui said in a post on LinkedIn. 

Led by Saudi Arabia, OPEC has faced legal dangers before, such as the long-contemplated US legislation “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act” — also known as NOPEC — which would would enable the government to sue OPEC members for manipulating the energy market. Various versions of the bill have been introduced several times over the past two decades without ever being enacted. 

The 13-member group plans to have a major presence at the United Nations’ flagship climate event for the first time ever, hosting a pavilion at the COP28 talks that start in Dubai at the end of November.  

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