The legal framework governing hydrocarbon activities in undelimited maritime areas

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Abstract

Owingtosoaring energy needs and improved drilling technology, offshore hydrocarbon activities have been on the rise in recent years. A delimited maritime boundary is an essential precondition for the establishment of a safe and stable environment which will facilitate investment and development. Nevertheless, the conclusion of delimitation agreements can be a difficult task due to competing interests and longstanding enmities among neighbouring countries. Significant maritime areas remain undelimited. In order to avoid the problems of both unilateral activities and a complete 'moratorium' in undelimited areas, Articles 74(3) and 83(3) of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea impose two obligations of conduct: pending delimitation agreement, States are under duty to 'make every effort to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature', while, at the same time, the interested parties should refrain from acts that might 'jeopardize or hamper the reaching of the final agreement'. Bearing this in mind, it is argued that unilateral drilling and, under certain circumstances, unilateral seismic surveys in undelimited maritime areas should not be allowed and such conduct might trigger State responsibility. However, given that complete inactivity in such areas was not the intention of the drafters of the Convention, it is argued that several activities may be permitted as long as they are performed in good faith and do not put any final agreement at risk.

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APA

Ioannides, N. A. (2019). The legal framework governing hydrocarbon activities in undelimited maritime areas. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 68(2), 345–368. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020589319000010

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