Hydrocarbon activity can be both harmful and hazardous. It is harmful if, in the course of normal ... Read more
Hydrocarbon activity can be both harmful and hazardous. It is harmful if, in the course of normal operations, it damages its surrounding environment and/or the interests of other states. States and operators should implement a number of technical measures to ensure that the impacts remain below the legally relevant threshold of ‘significant’ harm. However, hydrocarbon activities are also inherently hazardous because there is always a risk of a low probability-high impact accident, e.g., an oil spill or an explosion. The harsh conditions of the Arctic coupled with its sensitive biodiversity mean that activities in the Arctic are more hazardous than in more temperate parts of the World.
This paper addresses three themes to clarify the rights and responsibilities of states pursuing offshore hydrocarbon development in the Arctic: international law regarding permanent sovereignty and constraints to protect the environment, the interests of other states and the rights of indigenous and other peoples; the role and limitations of the Arctic Council; and the challenge of indigenous sovereignty and indigenous rights.
Greenland’s independence to some extent pivots on the exploitation of natural resources, includin ... Read more
Greenland’s independence to some extent pivots on the exploitation of natural resources, including offshore hydrocarbon resources. The exploitation of oil and gas is inherently hazardous and offshore activities and marine oil transports bring a risk of a serious pollution incident affecting the interests of other States. The long-established principle of full reparation for injuries indicates that should a major accident occur under an independent Greenland’s watch, Greenland would bear a potentially unlimited liability to compensate affected parties. However, for a post-colonial State of under 60,000 souls, an overwhelming compensation claim could be disastrous: indeed, it could be sufficiently overwhelming as to compromise the rights of the Greenlandic people to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over their own resources, as well as a number of fundamental human rights found in international customary and conventional law. This chapter examines how such a conflict between the principle of full reparation and the rights of peoples to self-determination might be resolved in practice in light of the ILC Articles on State Responsibility, international customary law and ius cogens, international human rights treaties and the few pertinent, though limited and distinguishable, cases that have been decided to date. The chapter concludes by finding that the principle of self-determination has a peremptory status and thus in the event of conflict with the principle of full reparation, the latter must be considered subservient. However, there may be scope for greater flexibility in the mode and timescale of reparation than in its quantum.
Offshore Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic under International Law explores the international ... Read more
Offshore Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic under International Law explores the international legal framework for hydrocarbon development in the marine Arctic. It presents an assessment of the careful balance between States’ sovereign rights to their resources, their obligations to uphold the rights of Arctic inhabitants and their duty to prevent injury to other States. It examines the rights of indigenous and other Arctic populations, the precautionary approach, the environmental impact assessment and the duty to monitor offshore hydrocarbon activities. It also analyses the application of the international law of responsibility in the event that the State fails to meet its primary obligations in the absence of a State’s wrongful conduct.