Article from: OGEL 2 (2016), in Editorial
It is my privilege to have been the guest editor of the special Polar energy law issue of OGEL. The last special issue relating to the Polar Regions was in 2012, and pertained only to the Arctic. The 2012 special edition focussed on boundaries, resources and the promise of co-operation in the Arctic Region.
Since 2012 there have been many developments in the Arctic. The Northern Sea Route has been expanded, and oil and gas development has been considerably expanded in both the European Arctic and the North American Arctic. In the European Arctic, a number of new states have been admitted as observers to the Arctic Council, including China and India. Yet strangely, the European Union is yet to be admitted to the Arctic council, even though three of its member states (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), as well as EEA states Norway and Iceland are members. The entry of the EU into the Arctic Council was blocked by Canada in 2013, as a result of the EU ban on seal skins, and by Russia in 2015 over EU sanctions against Russia in the wake of Russia's involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The Arctic Council has been an important player in the development of Arctic policy and law (both soft law and recent binding law relating to search and rescue and oil spill response).
The Arctic has been a focus of EU policy in recent years, with three main instruments released by the EU since the last special issue in 2012: the 2014 European Parliament resolution on EU strategy for the Arctic; the 2014 Council Conclusions on developing a European Union Policy toward the Arctic Region; and the 2016 Integrated European Union policy for the Arctic - Joint Communication. This special issue analyses the EU and its relationship to the arctic. In particular, the articles of Henning Jessen, Claudia Cinelli and Seline Trevisanut, and Tina Hunter examine various aspects of the EU and its relationship with the Arctic.
The remit of this special issue is much broader than the EU and the Arctic. There is a special focus on energy development in the Arctic. Energy development and production in the Arctic is dominated by oil and gas development, and this is reflected in the papers that are contained in this issue. Of special focus is that of Beate Sjåfell and Anita Halvorssen, which examines the legal status of oil and gas exploitation in the Arctic, challenging previously held perceptions. Yet there is much more than a mere focus on resource extraction. Articles by Elisabet Jupesta and Sandra Cassotta provide a consideration of issues related to oil and gas development in the arctic, including sovereignty and environmental issues (Jupesta) and oil and gas environmental assessment and indigenous peoples rights in Greenland. The issue of hydraulic fracturing in the arctic is assessed in detail by Sanna Elfving, whilst Petra Drankier assesses the regulatory regime for environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment in the marine Arctic.
Issues related to boundaries in the Arctic have not been neglected in this issue, with Vincent Diox considering the impact of energy development on navigation and sovereignty. In addition, Blanche Sas revisits the age-old issue of the Beaufort Sea dispute, providing a fresh analysis of the legal issues and way forward in this ongoing dispute.
In addition, this issue has the privilege of an analysis of the Madrid Protocol applying to the Arctic, and the Australian response to the mining at the South Pole by Shashi Van de Graaff
With special permission form authors and publishers, we also reprint two seminal Arctic papers: The Greenland gold rush: promises and pitfalls of Greenland's energy and mineral resources by Tim Boersma and Kevin Foley, and The prospects and challenges for Arctic oil development James Henderson and Julia Loe. These fine publications provide an in-depth analysis of some of the issues pertaining to these fragile regions of the world.
This special issue provides a up-to-date analysis of many aspects of a rapidly changing region, and the legal issues that dominate the Polar regions.