Trade and Investment Rules for Energy
V. Facilitating Cross-border Movement of Energy Services Personnel
Issues and Challenges
For purposes of this report, the Task Force defines Energy Services Personnel (ESP) as those highly trained specialists who supervise and conduct the installation, maintenance, repair, and upgrade of energy infrastructure in the areas of fuels, power generation, and electricity transmission and distribution. Increased integration and bundling of energy services means that the international deployment of such personnel takes on growing importance. For companies involved in large and small projects, this can be essential in the planning and development phase and, importantly, in project implementation and operation. On a daily basis, it is critical to be able to rapidly deploy ESP to foreign jurisdictions for repair, maintenance, or emergency action, often with only a few hours notice.
The multinational pool of energy expertise drawn from a multitude of jurisdictions complicates lead-time requirements in obtaining coordinated and timely entry and admission approvals for these personnel. A common difficulty for the industry is the increasingly complex, time consuming, and varied entry requirements applied by host States. Visa applications and work permits can require lead times of several weeks or even months. In contrast, action to deal with emergencies in the energy business often requires foreign experts to be on site in a matter of hours.
Some of these issues have been addressed in the Doha Round services negotiations, and aimed at expanding the GATS to cover cross-border movement of personnel (known as "Mode 4"). With continuing uncertainty over the future of the Doha Round, however, the development of some form of broad multilateral consensus on the Mode 4 issue seems more elusive than ever.