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 7: Energy and international boundaries

Tim Martin


The energy sector, in particular the oil and gas business, has a long history of dealing with international boundaries and the disputes that sometimes arise from them. This happens when oil and gas fields extend over international borders. Geology pays no attention to political boundaries. However, international oil companies (IOCs) have to pursue that geology wherever it may take them, including over and through boundaries that are placed in their path. The setting of boundaries and any disputes related to those boundaries essentially involve only governments since only they are able to claim sovereign title and only they can resolve boundaries with their neighbouring states. However, IOCs get indirectly involved in these disputes when they are granted concessions that straddle disputed boundary lines. Most of those boundary disputes occur in maritime waters. The number of boundary disputes has increased as the industry has moved into deeper waters and further offshore with improving technology. There are certainly a large number of boundary disputes remaining that will take many years to resolve.

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