Oil and Gas Development in Disputed Waters under UNCLOS



Maritime delimitation is crucial in determining which coastal States may exercise control and jurisdiction over certain hydrocarbon deposits. Although international law has recently become more precise on the matter, boundary disputes are frequently resolved only after several or even many years. Even while coastal States are in a deadlock over delimitation issues, the need to explore and exploit the disputed areas’ resources remains imperative for reasons of energy security, social welfare and economic development. Thus, the question arises as to the rights and obligations of coastal States with respect to the development of natural resources in areas subject to overlapping claims.

Against this background, the paper examines the relevant provisions of the 1982 United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, international jurisprudence and State
practice. The
central argument advanced is that in the absence of an agreed boundary or a provisional
cooperative agreement, none of the States concerned operates legitimately in unilaterally
undertaking petroleum operations in the disputed area, including
seismic surveys, should the
conduct of such operations prove to aggravate the dispute. Finally, this paper considers the
practical implications of the aforementioned legal position on the development of hydrocarbon
resources in areas subject to overlappin
g maritime claims.

NB: full text available here: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1493219/

Keywords: Law of the Sea, Contested Waters, Boundary Disputes, Seismic Surveys, Disputed Waters, Petroleum Operations

How to Cite: Yiallourides, C. (2016) “Oil and Gas Development in Disputed Waters under UNCLOS”, Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. 5(1).