How Contractual Risk Allocation Provisions of Oil and Gas Contracts Have Been or May Be interpreted by an English Court – A Case Study of Some Model Offshore Drilling Rig Contracts Developed in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America

  • Kelechi Ofoegbu

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This study is an examination of how English courts have approached, or are likely to approach – and therefore, the effectiveness of – attempts by the parties to oil and gas contracts to allocate risks arising from the activities which form the subject matter of their respective contracts inter se. The study utilises petroleum industry standard form offshore drilling contracts in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America as the context for this analysis, and examines the risks associated with drilling and other incidental operations, in the light of catastrophic events such as the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the Montara disaster in the Timor Sea.

    Drawing from the Economic Theory of Law espoused by Richard Posner, which correlates market behaviour, resource allocation and the legal system, and so conceptualises risk from a cost and utility perspective, the study will show that it is actually the economic consequences of the occurrence of an event that are being allocated, and that the entire notion of risk allocation is a determination of how the economic cost of the occurrence of the particular consequence will be borne by the parties to the contract.

    The study will conclude with a comparative analysis of risk allocation in the different model contracts, and an opinion on the success/effectiveness of the model contracts, as tools used by parties for risk allocation inter se, in response to the challenges created by legislative and judicial intervention. Justification for this opinion will be given, with reference to relevant case law and statutes in the different jurisdictions.

    Recommendations will be made on how the risk allocation structure can be improved, either by reference to other approaches the parties could adopt, or by clarifying ambiguities in the current approach (where applicable), and proposing a balance in the instances in which, from the study’s perspective, the allocation formula is skewed, either due to the imbalance of power between the parties or by the interference of external forces such as the courts and legislature.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJanet Liao (Supervisor) & Kenneth Mildwaters (Supervisor)


    • Risk Allocation
    • Indemnities
    • Exclusion Clauses
    • Limitation of Liability
    • Optimality of Risk Allocation
    • Model Drilling Contracts

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