Article from: OGEL 1 (2014), in Editorial
It seems that despite the call for renewable energy there is continuous increase in the quest for oil and gas. With the depletion of reserves onshore the search is increasingly being focused on oceans. The pursuit of oil and gas has driven exploration and production offshore into geographically and geologically complex environments such as ultra-deep waters and the Arctic. These difficult conditions increase the potential risk of accidents that may result in serious marine pollution. It is this area of risk this special issue will cover. It addresses the legal, economic, environmental and policy aspects of offshore exploration and production activities. This brief editorial will provide an overview of the various contributions in this Special Issue.
In the paper titled "Environmental Problems Associated with Offshore Oil and Gas Activities", Yusuf Mohammed Yusuf gives an overview of the environmental cost of offshore operations resulting from the polluting nature of the operations, accidental pollution and the decommissioning of offshore structures. The commentary notes the absence of a binding global instrument dedicated to the regulation of offshore petroleum E&P activities. The key recommendation of the paper is to the adoption of an international convention on offshore petroleum E&P, with the hope that this is achievable when oil and gas industry operators drive the initiative.
Tina Hunter, writing on the "Role of the Regulatory Framework in Encouraging the Sustainable Extraction of Petroleum Resources in Australia and Norway", analyses the petroleum policy of Australia and its capacity to implement the objective of sustainable development of Australia's petroleum resources in comparison with the regulatory regime of Norway. The paper focuses on the structure and function of the legislative and contractual elements of the policy and dwelling on the social and economic aspects of sustainable development of petroleum resources. It submits that the present Australian legislative and policy framework does not encourage sustainable extraction of petroleum resources to the fullest possible extent. While comparing the different regulatory regimes the paper argues that the prescriptive and rule based legal regime in Australia does not help sustainable development while the objective based regulatory regime of Norway enhances sustainable extraction of petroleum resources.
In the "International Law and Governance of the Arctic's Offshore Oil Industry: Inert or Altered?" Emma A. Barry-Pheby writes on new developments in Arctic oil and gas E&P. The paper focuses on environmental impact assessment; operational pollution and waste management; and oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation in the arctic. It analyses new developments in Arctic Council governance and international law impact on Arctic oil and gas E&P. The paper argues that with the changes in the Arctic Council governance, it is no longer inert but the ad hoc funding mechanism might be a limitation to the new developments.
Ondotimi Songi writes on "the Regime of Decommissioning Ghana's Offshore Hydrocarbon Facilities". He notes the fact that decommissioning is a big issues and of interest and concern to both government, industry and communities in view of the environmental issues involved and the economic challenges. The paper argues that there is need for the regulatory regime to strike a balance between conflicting interest of economic consideration and environmental protection. It observes that decommissioning in Ghana is presently influenced by the North Sea regime and suggest the need to explore other sustainable alternatives. After an overview of the regime in Ghana's offshore the paper, without assessing the adequacy or otherwise of Ghana's legal framework on decommissioning, recommends the setting up of ad-hoc committee of various regulators in the oil and gas industry to handle the process for effective decommissioning.
In "Dealing With Decommissioning Costs of Offshore Oil and Gas Field Installations: An Appraisal of Existing Regimes" David Testa addressed argues that governments (also) need to focus on ensuring that they have adequate mechanisms in place to be able to deal with decommissioning costs when the relevant time approaches. If this scantily discussed aspect of decommissioning theory is discarded, governments may well find their options to be severely limited at a point when it might be too late to remedy the situation. A comprehensive decommissioning strategy to deal with the underlying maritime law issues therefore requires a solid basis of financial planning from the earliest stage possible.
In "Third Party Access to Infrastructure in the United Kingdom Continental Shelf: An unhappy mix of Heavy-Handed Regulation and Light-Handed Regulation" Yanal Abul-Failat provides a synopsis on both hard law and soft law instruments addressing third-party access ("TPA") to infrastructure in the UKCS. Firstly, the paper will outline the scope and purpose of TPA; followed by an outline and evaluation of the regulatory regime under the recently enacted Energy Act 2011 ("Act") and the Infrastructure Code of Practice ("ICOP"). Finally, it will provide a conclusion on whether these instruments adequately address the issues of TPA and whether they are effective.
Simon Amaduobogha and Dr. Sergei V. Vinogradov
CEPMLP, University of Dundee