Introduction and context :
Recent accidents on offshore platforms have demonstrated that the environmental risks of offshore drilling activities concern all regions in the world and all types of companies. Because these accidents have had transboundary impacts, discussions were recently reopened on the suitability of the current international framework to regulate offshore oil and gas activities. In this regard, it clearly appears that there are regulatory gaps, both in terms of safety of offshore drilling activities and liability and compensation in case of accidents.
- The current framework regulating offshore drilling activities highlights regulatory gaps at the national, regional and international levels. Several risks can be pointed out if the legal status quo prevails, including inappropriate, fragmented or inexistent regulations on the safety of offshore activities and non-payment of damages because of the absence of clear rules regulating liability and compensation in case of accidents.
- Regional agreements on the environmental safety of offshore oil and activities should be developed and strengthened.
- The elaboration of an international convention regulating liability and compensation for pollution damage resulting from offshore drilling activities should be promoted. In the absence of such initiative and as a transitional option, provisions on liability and compensation could be integrated in existing and future regional agreements.
- Regulations cannot not deliver changes if States have no means—e.g. technical, financial, human, etc.—to implement them: building States’ capacities in effectively controlling the offshore industry is therefore a crucial challenge.