Research Handbook on International Energy Law
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Research Handbook on International Energy Law

Edited by Kim Talus

International energy law is an elusive but important concept. There is no body of law called ‘international energy law’, nor is there any universally accepted definition for it, yet many specialised areas of international law have a direct relationship with energy policy. The Research Handbook on International Energy Law examines various aspects of international energy law and offers a comprehensive account of its basic concepts and processes.
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Chapter 20: The regulation of oil spills from offshore installations

Alex Wawryk


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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