Adjustment to the International Legal Regime on Regulation of Accidental Pollution from Offshore Petroleum Operations

  • Simon Warikiyei Amaduobogha

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Offshore petroleum exploration and production (E&P) activities are faced with both technical and environmental challenges. In spite of these challenges, offshore petroleum E&P are on the increase globally. These operations have not been accident free even with improved technology. Recent incidents like Montara blowout and Deepwater Horizon fire have more than ever before raised serious concerns about the safety of offshore oil and gas E&P. Key issues are the prevention of major hazards, emergency response and civil liability, and payment of compensation. These issues have greater implication when the impact is transboundary. There is a general consensus on the need to ensure safety of these operations globally. However, the international legal framework needed to achieve the objective is unresolved. Looking at the extant international instruments relating to marine pollution from offshore oil and gas activities, there is a clear absence of global treaty on safety of offshore operations, civil liability and compensation. While there is general consensus on the need for safety of offshore oil and gas operations globally, opinions are divided on the necessity for global treaties. This thesis looks at the extant international legal framework at both global and regional levels with a view to identifying gaps in provisions on safety, civil liability and compensation. The thesis finds that even in the post-Macondo era, there are no global treaties in relation to safety of offshore petroleum E&P to prevent accidental pollution, and to deal with issues of civil liability and compensation. Furthermore, most regional regimes have no specific provisions on accidental pollution from offshore operations and liability issues arising therefrom. The absence of provisions for civil liability, especially in cases of transboundary harm from offshore accidental pollution has created difficulty for affected nations and nationals. This thesis proffers suggestion for international regulation of offshore petroleum operations to prevent accidental pollution, improve emergency response and guarantee prompt settlement of liabilities and payment of compensation. Accordingly, an international legal framework involving three levels of legal regimes is recommended as an effective way of preventing accidental pollution from offshore petroleum operations to protect marine environment and also ensuring that liabilities that may arise in the event of a major hazard are adequately addressed.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSergei Vinogradov (Supervisor) & Peter Cameron (Supervisor)


    • Offshore oil & gas industry
    • Accidental pollution
    • International
    • Regulation
    • Legal regime
    • Petroleum
    • Global and regional

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