AbstractDeveloping hydrocarbon resources of the outer continental shelf poses a fundamental problem to the coastal State and the International Sea- Bed Authority (ISA) where such resource transverse the outer limits of the continental shelf or it is located in the overlapping outer continental shelf of coastal States. In analogous situations within the sovereign territory of two or more States, the legal regime often obliges the operators to unitize a reservoir straddling different authorizations.
Where a reserve transcends boundary delimitation lines between coastal States, the maritime boundary delimitation usually integrates a ‘mineral clause’ to ensure the rational development and equitable distribution of such Trans–boundary reserve based on a unitization agreement that is eventually concluded between the parties.
In the outer continental shelf, there subsists the potential of a hydrocarbon reserve cutting across the lines delineating the outer limits of the continental shelf. In such a situation, the coastal State parties to the UNCLOS and the ISA are explicitly obliged to operate such fields in accordance with the provisions of the UNCLOS. This stipulation preserves the jurisdictions of the coastal State over the resources of its continental Shelf and the rights of mankind through the common heritage of mankind principle.
Outer limits of the continental shelf delineated according to Article 76 UNCLOS and based on the Recommendations of the United Nations Commission of the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) may also be susceptible to disputes where there is overlapping claim over such area. Invariably, this will affect resource extraction by interested parties viewing the intricate risks involved.
From the implications of Articles 137 (1-3) and 142 (1-3) UNCLOS, any attempt at unilateral exploitation of resources straddling the outer limits of the continental Shelf by either the coastal State or the ISA may not be permissible. Same applies to any effort at exploiting resources in overlapping outer continental shelves.
Therefore, in order to access such hydrocarbons, inhibit competitive or wasteful drilling and ensure equitable distribution between the coastal State and the ISA within the legitimate provisions of the UNCLOS, there is an apparent need to analogically adopt the mechanisms utilized by States in the efficient development and equitable distribution of disputed and Trans-boundary reserves to the hydrocarbons straddling the outer limits of the continental shelf and hydrocarbons located in overlapping outer continental shelves. The thesis thus attempts to deploy unitization and Joint Development principles towards the efficient or rational development and equitable distribution of the hydrocarbons in the outer continental shelf, whether between States or a State and the ISA.
|Date of Award||2015|
|Supervisor||Sergei Vinogradov (Supervisor) & Peter Cameron (Supervisor)|