International Boundary Disputes: An unfinished tale of Geology, Technology, Money, Law, History, Politics and Diplomacy

Niels Andersen, David Bishopp, Toufic Nassif, Sune Nordentoft-Lauridsen and Robert van de Poll

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    This paper provides an overview of the history of global marine boundary issues, mechanisms to resolve existing boundary disputes and the economic potential that can be unlocked by maritime coastal States by the exploitation of hydrocarbons trapped in areas currently unavailable for exploration and production operations.

    Vast hydrocarbon reserves are tied up in areas, either underlying waters greater than 200 nm offshore or disputed by Coastal States. In the former case technology in the form of deepwater drilling has made testing the potential feasible whilst in the latter case many of the 311 or so areas in dispute are able to be tested and developed using conventional techniques.

    Anything that appears to show a sovereign entity ceding control of land or sea to another country inevitably has a high profile in the countries concerned that in the worst case can lead to war. It is a credit to many States that embody the principles of the United Nations Charter and the United Nations Law of the Sea they have reached an agreement on how the economic potential trapped in disputed areas may be divided or shared.

    High-profile, high-stakes disputes relating to offshore oil and gas deposits underscore the importance of the modern law of the sea, and international law generally, to the peaceful settlement of boundary disputes affecting the energy industry. Yet boundary disputes form an overlooked area of investment risk management in the
    energy sector.

    This paper will introduce the technical and legal principles behind the solutions reached by States and will demonstrate some of the areas with the greatest hydrocarbon potential that have yet to be exploited and the areas of risk that require mitigation before investors will advance risk capital.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2014
    Event Offshore Technology Conference - Houston, United States
    Duration: 5 May 20148 May 2014


    Conference Offshore Technology Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited States


    • Maritime boundaries
    • Boundary disputes - in literature


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