- THE DEEP AND ULTRA-DEEP OFFSHORE CONQUEST: INCREASING RISKS FOR MARINE ENVIRONMENT
Recent accidents on offshore oil platforms (Australia 2009; United States, 2010; China, 2011; Brazil, 2012) have raised public awareness on the extent to which offshore oil exploitation is moving into increasingly deep waters (over 2 kilometres, compared to around 10 metres after the Second World War). This undoubtedly brings up questions of risks prevention and management when conducting these activities. Geological hazards, weather conditions, technological limits, and human factors can indeed, at such depths, lead to dramatic consequences in case of accidents.
- A FRAGMENTED AND INCOMPLETE INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORK ON OFFSHORE OIL EXPLOITATION
A study of the current international framework on offshore oil exploitation highlights both its fragmented and incomplete nature. At global level, the United Nations Convention on the Law on the Sea provides the legal basis to create an international regime for offshore oil activities, but no such a regime has been established so far. Moreover, regional initiatives, such as those developed in the North East Atlantic, the Mediterranean or Western Africa, are limited in their coverage and there still are many regions where offshore oil exploration and exploitation are on-going without any regional regulation.
- THE WAY FORWARD
The weaknesses and gaps of the current international regulatory framework therefore need to be addressed by both strengthening the safety of offshore oil exploitation, and adopting rules on liability and compensation. In that perspective, participants to IDDRI’s workshop identified key issues that must be addressed as soon as possible, including scale of action and States’ capacities.