Study trip to OPEC

The University of Vienna School of Law organized a Study Trip to the Headquarters of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna for students of the LLM in International Legal Studies programme on Friday 21st June 2013, as part of its study trips to different International Organizations in Vienna.  

The students were warmly greeted by members of the OPEC Secretariat and taken to the OPEC auditorium press room where and Ms. Zoreli Figueroa of the Public Relations and Information Department gave a detailed presentation on OPEC and its history. In the presentation she presented an overview of the historical processes that lead to the foundation of OPEC by its members, and the goals and objectives of the organization. She also gave an outline of the activities of OPEC and its policies and how the members sought to contribute to stabilize the world oil market. A lively discussion was held on the subject of the global oil market and the role OPEC plays. A brief overview was also provided on the role of the OPEC Secretariat in Vienna and its research on various aspects that it undertakes on key areas for its members, including the work of development work of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID).

Following a break, a presentation was made by our colleague in our LL.M. Program, Ms. Beatriz Patino-Skotton, together with Mr. Ali Nasir. Both Legal Advisers of the Legal Department of OPEC spoke on the overall legal foundation of the organization and the role of the Legal Department in the organisation’s structure. A detailed overview was provided into the internal and international legal aspects that the department covered in their work. The two members also provided a glimpse of their daily legal work ranging from assessing contracts, draft MOUs, legal documents, opinions and notes on various aspects that the organization was involved in ranging from administrative matters, employment, hire of services providers, private legal claims, legal documents, briefs and opinions on relevant international issues to larger international legislative matters regarding global OPEC activities, cooperation with oil consuming countries and the work of its members. An update of the legal challenges that OPEC faced abroad and the debate on issues related to the oil market, prices, including the legal issues facing some OPEC members provided the law students a good grasp of the legal issues handled by the department.

A wrap up Question and Answer discussion was held with the presenters, where a range of questions were asked from day to day issues that would confront someone in the legal department to larger issues related to membership and goals of the organization and its overall role in the global arena and issues regarding energy and oil as a resource.

The presentations and discussions at OPEC were very rewarding and useful as it enabled students to appreciate the role and work that OPEC played and moreover provided a hands-on insight into the many ways a legal professional can play a role in an international organization, such as OPEC. The study trip concluded with a personal tour of the premises, including the library and main conference hall of OPEC, by the presenters and members of the OPEC Secretariat.

Satya Rodrigo (LLM in International Legal Studies 2013)