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Resolving Energy Disputes in Times of Crisis – A remark from Professor Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid
April 28 , 2017

The CIArb's North American branch in Houston, a city recognized worldwide for its energy industry, hosted a conference on the topic of resolving energy disputes in time of crisis.  President Professor Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid was invited to deliver the keynote speech. 

Professor Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid’s speech focused on first the CIArb and its leading role in the improvement of dispute resolution, and the way in which the multinational aspect of transactions and the heterogeneity of actors in the energy industry reflect the diversity of the CIArb.

The oil and gas sector is inherently risky and vulnerable to crises, and the disputes and global crises are intrinsically intertwined.  The most common disputes which arise from oil and gas crises (or) external crises impacting oil and gas businesses include those resulting from the invocation of exemptions for non-performance.  Additionally disputes can come in the form of commercial disputes under price adjustment clauses, as well as investor-state disputes typical of the MENA region. 

In these disputes, the role of the dispute resolvers should go beyond solely resolution.  Based on previous case studies, dispute resolvers should be sensitive to the potential repercussions the resolution of a particular dispute may have on a larger crisis.  Dispute resolvers, settlers and preventers should at all times encourage peaceful negotiations and amicable settlements, especially in times of crises.  

It falls upon dispute resolvers to ensure their continuous training and education, so that they can undertake highly demanding tasks.  It is by going beyond our private interests, keeping in mind the interest of the profession, by nurturing a vision of fairness and justice and by acting as architects of peace through appropriate use of all ADR methods, that we will ensure the prosperous future of arbitration as an efficient alternative to court litigation.