Cablegate: Got Proposed "Voluntary Principles On Oil Tanker Transit

Published: Fri 4 Dec 2009 04:05 PM
DE RUEHAK #1734/01 3381605
P 041605Z DEC 09
E.O 12958: N/A
REF: 2004 STATE 178586
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1. (SBU) Summary: At the December 3 meeting of the U.S. Turkey
Energy Working Group, Hakki Akil, MFA deputy undersecretary for
economic affairs and head of the Turkish EWG delegation, asked for
U.S. consideration and support of proposed "Voluntary Principles on
Oil Tanker Transit through the Turkish Straits." MFA first proposed
the principles in 2004 in response to environmental, human-health,
safety, and commercial concerns. At that time, the USG did not
endorse the text. At the December 3 meeting, we told MFA we would
review the proposed principles and be prepared to discuss it at the
next working group meeting. End summary.
2. (U) At the December 3 meeting of the U.S. Turkey Energy Working
Group, Akil presented a draft of "Voluntary Principles on Oil Tanker
Transit through the Turkish Straits" (full text in para 5). Akil
asked for U.S. support of the principles and said the GoT would seek
the support of Black Sea coastal states and energy-sector companies
as well. Akil explained that the idea for the principles came from
the "Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights," signed by
the U.S., the U.K., companies in the extractive and energy sectors,
and NGOs in December 2000. He said the principles on the Turkish
Straits were proposed in response to concerns about environmental,
human-health, and safety risks related to tanker transit through the
Straits, as well as companies' concerns that by building by-pass
pipelines they would free up less-expensive shipping space in the
Straits for competitors. The U.S. side responded that we would
consider the matter and be prepared to discuss it at the next
working group meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for February
2010 in Washington.
3. (SBU) According to Akil, the MFA first proposed the voluntary
principles in 2004, when Akil was deputy director general for
energy, environment and water affairs. According to reftel, we did
not support the text at that time. We proposed (a) completely
delinking the oil tanker safety issue from the pipeline issue; (b)
suggesting the GoT seek consultations among governments and industry
on promoting safety for oil tanker shipping; and (c) urging the GoT
and governments in littoral states to move forward with timely and
transparent procedures for companies' proposed pipeline projects,
with selection based on commercial feasibility. According to MFA,
the last discussions on the principles took place in August 2004,
and the matter was not pursued further after Akil left his position
at the end of that year.
4. (SBU) COMMENT: Demand for tanker transit through the Straits
continues to increase, and concerns about risks of an accident are
valid. Embassy supports re-engaging the Turks in a discussion on
this issue, and would appreciate Department's evaluation of this new
text. We would be interested to know whether the voluntary
principles, with revision, are something the USG could now support
or whether we could cooperate with the Turks on other measures to
address their concerns about tanker transit. End comment.
5. (SBU) Begin text quote:
"Voluntary Principles on Oil Tanker Transit through the Turkish
The Governments of the Republic of Turkey, [certain Black Sea
Littoral States] [the European Union] and [the United States]
("Governments"), energy sector companies producing petroleum in the
various countries of the Former Soviet Union for export to world
markets ("Companies") and civil society organizations ("NGOs")
together ("Participants"), sharing an interest in protecting the
environment and promoting human health, safety and security, have
engaged in dialogue to produce a set of principles intended to
minimize risks to those values arising from hydrocarbon tankers
transiting the Turkish Straits ("the Straits"), without prejudice to
the passage regime, while also ensuring uninterrupted flows of
petroleum to world markets ("Principles").
The Participants recognize the importance of cooperative action and
the constructive role which industry and civil society can play
together with governments to meet the challenge of defining these
Principles. The Participants further recognize the importance of
continuing this dialogue and keeping under review these Principles
in order to ensure their continuing relevance and efficacy.
Recognizing that there are limits to the number of hydrocarbons
tankers that can transit the Straits;
Considering that a secure and uninterrupted flow of energy has vital
economic and national security significance to both energy producing
and energy consuming States;
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Appreciating that the Companies are committed to operations that are
commercially viable and consistent with internationally recognized
standards of corporate governance and social responsibility;
Acknowledging that the protection of the environment of the Straits
and of the human health, safety and security of the local population
is a fundamental value shared by the Participants;
Noting that the City of Istanbul has been designated as a World
Heritage Site of outstanding and universal value by the UNESCO World
Heritage Convention and that the international community is thereby
committed to cooperate in protecting it as a unique cultural
heritage for the benefit of both present and future generations;
Recalling that the Straits have previously experienced major
shipping accidents resulting in the loss of life and environmental
pollution and have threatened portions of the City of Istanbul World
Heritage Site;
Recognising that measures taken to minimize these risks, including
the provision of systems and infrastructure to ensure safe passage
of vessels through the Straits and the implementation of traffic
controls, particularly during periods of poor weather and high
traffic pressures, carry significant and quantifiable financial
consequences for both the Turkish Government and the Companies;
Considering that various players in the petroleum industry and
governments have already initiated processes to define, develop and
quantify the costs associated with constructing and operating
various crude oil export transportation systems to by-pass the
Straits consistent with the highest international standards and
practices relating to the environment, health, safety and human
Bearing in mind that Governments may help ensure that hydrocarbons
tankers that do transit the Straits adhere to standards of 'quality
shipping' (such as those promoted by the EC Commission) through such
means as port state control, environmentally-differentiated taxes
and dues and interactive waterway management;
Accordingly, the Participants hereby express their support for the
following Voluntary Principles on Oil Tanker Transit through the
Turkish Straits:
Quantification of the True Costs of Crude Oil Tanker Transit through
the Turkish Straits
There is an ascertainable limit to the number of tankers that can
cost-effectively transit the Straits;
There are quantifiable costs to the Turkish Government associated
with investing in infrastructure including VTS and suitable tug
boats, pilots and mobilising other equipment and related services to
enable safe and efficient transit of ships;
There are quantifiable costs to the petroleum industry associated
with delays to shipping and lost production when the Straits are
closed or hydrocarbons tanker transit constrained;
Accordingly, the Companies agree to work together to develop a
methodology for use by the Participants to quantify the following:
-- The value of production that is lost and the cost of incremental
shipping delays to producers of crude oil; and
-- The cost to crude oil refiners who are forced to buy alternative
crude oil as a result of such shipping delays and lost production.
The Participants further agree to develop a methodology to ascertain
a limit to the number of tankers that can cost-effectively transit
the Turkish Straits.
Pursuit of Turkish Straits By-pass Alternatives
-- The Participants agree that priority should be given to
maximizing the use of existing crude oil export transportation
systems that by-pass the Straits;
-- The Participants further agree to facilitate and support the
development of new-build crude export oil transportation systems
that by-pass the Straits and are constructed and operated in
accordance with the highest international technical, safety,
environmental, labour and human rights standards and practices; and
-- The Companies agree to seek use of all available capacity in such
crude oil export transportation systems prior to considering
shipping crude oil through the Straits.
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Cooperative Government Measures
The Governments agree to consider and discuss the adoption of
cooperative measures, consistent with the Montreux Convention and
other rules of international law, to encourage ships transiting the
Straits to adhere to standards of 'quality shipping' (such as those
promoted by the EC Commission) through such means as coordinated
port state control of ships intending to pass through the Straits,
environmentally-differentiated taxes and dues and waterway
management offering advantageous time slots to quality ships;
Monitoring and Review
The Participants agree to monitor adherence to these Principles and
to transparently report on compliance. They agree to review them
periodically and revise them as necessary. End quote.
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