Evolving Issues of International Law and Policy
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh, Robert Beckman and Hao Duy Phan
Chapter 7: Transboundary pollution from offshore activities: a study of the Montara offshore oil spill
The 2009 Montara offshore oil spill and its consequences were anything but expected. Originating from an offshore well in the Timor Sea 140 nautical miles off the coast of Australia and 50 nautical miles from the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundary with Indonesia, it is a quintessential example of transboundary pollution from offshore activities and is still the subject of unresolved and heated debates between Australia and Indonesia. This chapter first briefly examines the circumstances of the Montara blowout and spill, the extent of its transboundary effects and the conclusions from the investigations carried out by Australia. The remainder of the chapter reviews the administrative and legal mechanisms and steps taken by the government of Australia and PTT Exploration and Production Australasia (PTTEP-AA), the oil operator, and their compliance with international law. It distinguishes three successive phases: firstly, the oil spill preparedness; secondly, the oil spill response; and thirdly, the mechanisms for compensation. For each phase, the factual, administrative and legal circumstances of the Montara spill are contrasted with the applicable international legal framework.
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