Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by Robert Beckman, Ian Townsend-Gault, Clive Schofield, Tara Davenport and Leonardo Bernard
Chapter 6: Joint development agreements: legal structure and key issues
Given the many problems that beset States when trying to agree on delimitation of maritime boundaries, hope of a swift but peaceful solution might be thought to lie in the application of the instrument known as the joint development agreement. In practice, this has proved far from straightforward. In this chapter, however, we shall limit our analysis to the formal requirements of such agreements, the typical legal structure and issues arising. In order to understand what is involved in such agreements, it is first necessary to examine a few preliminary issues. This will assist in providing both a context and background to the forthcoming analysis. The first issue to consider is the subject matter of joint development agreements. The majority of joint development agreements concern shared natural resources in the marine environment. Ong defines these common resources as ‘common offshore hydrocarbon deposits [which] either lie across delimited continental shelf boundaries or are found in areas of overlapping continental shelf claims’. Any exploitation of this natural resource has to be carefully conducted within the constraints of international law, and must have regard to the sovereign rights States have to exploit the natural resources within the limits of their continental shelves.
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