There are hundreds of different industries, only a few of which have spawned professional and academic sub-disciplines. The energy industries have been among the most dominant industries of the twentieth century - the lifeblood of the modern economies, fuelling both industrial and private consumption. The energy industry lies behind all societal functions. In the words of the Court of Justice of the European Union (discussing petroleum): 'Petroleum products, because of their exceptional importance as energy sources in the modern economy are of fundamental importance for a country's existence since not only its economy but above all its institutions, its essential public services and even the survival of its inhabitants depend upon them.' Given this fundamental importance of petroleum products and energy more generally, coupled with the economic value that this industry and its activities represents, it is little wonder that energy law and international energy law have emerged as academic disciplines and as areas of specialization among practitioners. Similarly, it is little wonder that it has led to the emergence of international institutions and international practices, and has contributed to international law in a general sense. This first chapter of the Research Handbook on International Energy Law examines two closely connected issues: international energy law and internationalization of energy law. These issues are also related to the underlying question of what is meant by energy law and international energy law.
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