Recent decades have seen a marked increase in the development of offshore oil and gas activities. Due to increasing energy demand and technological innovations, drilling activities extended and moved into deep and ultra-deep water areas (Dragani and Kotonev, 2013). As of today, almost a third of the oil and a quarter of the natural gas consumed in the world come from underwater areas. This rush to offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation is not about to end: forecasts show a continuing growth of production in traditional offshore regions (e.g. Western Africa, Gulf of Mexico) (PCF Energy, 2011) and significant development in new areas (Pike, 2013), such as Eastern Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Drilling more and deeper means increased threats to the environment, depletion of natural resources, and potential negative consequences for the human activities dependent upon these ecosystems. Recent accidents on offshore platforms have demonstrated that the environmental risks of offshore drilling activities concern all regions of the world and all types of companies. These transboundary nature of the impacts from these accidents have reinvigorated discussions regarding the suitability of the current international regulatory framework for offshore oil and gas activities (Rochette et al., 2014). In this regard, it is clear that there are regulatory gaps, both in terms of safety of offshore drilling activities and liability and compensation in case of accidents.
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