- Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Kim Talus
Chapter 20: The regulation of oil spills from offshore installations
Ensuring the integrity of oil and/or gas wells (that is, preventing blowouts) is a fundamental responsibility of companies involved in offshore petroleum exploration and production. Blowouts from offshore oil wells can have major and long lasting effects, including the loss of human life, the pollution of marine and shoreline ecosystems, and substantial commercial losses by the companies directly involved and third parties affected by the spill. On 6 July 1988, the Piper Alpha oil rig exploded off the coast of the United Kingdom, causing 167 deaths, and significant oil pollution. Thirty one years later, in August 2009, the blow out of the Montara oil well off Australia's coastline caused one of the worst maritime oil spoil disasters in the nation's history. Within one year, the blowout of the deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 and the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig led to the deaths of 11 workers, with payment for individual compensation claims and clean up costs totalling many billions of dollars, and BP accepting criminal liability for over $4bn of fines in November 2012.
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