Energy & environment

Most investor-state disputes (ISDS) have concerned environmental matters. Corporations are using the ISDS system found in trade and investment agreements to challenge environmental policies. As of end of 2019, 41% of all ICSID cases were energy and natural resources-related.

Most well-known cases include:

• Lone Pine Resources (US) vs. Canada: the investor challenged Quebec’s moratorium on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas. The provincial government declared the moratorium in 2011 so as to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the extraction method widely accused of leaching chemicals and gases into groundwater and the air. Case pending (NAFTA invoked).

• Bilcon (US) vs. Canada: the US industry challenged Canadian environmental requirements affecting their plans to open a basalt quarry and a marine terminal in Nova Scotia. In 2015 the ISDS tribunal decided that the government’s decision hindered the investors’ expectations. Bilcon won and received US$7 million in damages, plus interest (NAFTA invoked).

• Vattenfall (Sweden) vs. Germany: in 2007 the Swedish energy corporation was granted a provisional permit to build a coal-fired power plant near the city of Hamburg. In an effort to protect the Elbe river from the waste waters dumped from the plant, environmental restrictions were added before the final approval of its construction. The investor initiated a dispute, arguing it would make the project unviable. The case was ultimately settled in 2011, with the city of Hamburg agreeing to the lowering of environmental standards (ECT invoked).

Photo: Kris Krug / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(March 2020)

Mining MX | 16-Feb-2007
A foreign mining company is suing the South African government over alleged expropriation of its mineral rights in a move that has huge implications for the country’s new mining dispensation.
| 15-Sep-2006
Mining company Oxus Gold PLC said it is seeking an arbitration order to protect its investments in Kyrgyzstan, following the government-sponsored seizure of premises owned by Talas Gold Mining Co, Oxus’ joint venture company at Jerooy. Oxus said that representatives of Jerooyaltyn, a recently created joint venture between Kyrgyzaltyn and Global G.o.l.d, and local police forcibly took possession of the building on Thursday in direct contravention of the UK-Kyrgyz Bilateral Investment Treaty and Kyrgyz law.
| 11-Sep-2006
Ecuadorian President Alfredo Palacio has rejected arbitration against his nation for annulling in May the contract with US Oxy oil company that operated there.
| 31-Jul-2006
The outcome of Occidental Petroleum’s latest dispute with Ecuador will be an important test of the effectiveness of BITs in protecting overseas investor rights in volatile political climates.
FT | 12-Jul-2006
The Kremlin will face yet another legal headache on Tuesday over its role in the break-up of Yukos after US attorneys began an arbitration proceeding in Spain on behalf of Spanish investors who were allegedly hurt by the Yukos affair.
IPS | 26-May-2006
Showing the door to Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) and scuttling US free trade negotiations have long been agenda priorities for Ecuadorian social movements and political sectors. But following government steps that have all but made these goals a reality, the atmosphere seems more anxious than celebratory.
ANTARA | 18-May-2006
The US-based Occidental Petroleum Company has filed an arbitration claim against Quito for canceling its exploration rights, a move that resulted in a suspension of free trade talks with Washington.
| 18-May-2006
US-based Occidental Petroleum has responded swiftly to a move by the Ecuadorian Government to kick the company out of Ecuador. The firm filed a request for arbitration with the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) yesterday. The company’s claim is expected to be for at least $1 Billion (US) in damages.
| 12-Jan-2005
The graffiti on the walls in Quito ask if the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the US is pushing on Colombia, Peru and Ecuador means that our days are numbered.
| 12-Jan-2005
En estos días las pintas quiteñas preguntan si con el Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) que EEUU está impulsando con Colombia, Perú y Ecuador ¿tenemos los días contados?

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