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Chapter 4. The El Dorado Effect: Reappraising the ‘Oil Factor’ in Maritime Boundary Disputes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to reappraise the 'oil factor' in context of maritime boundary disputes. The substantial expansion in national claims to maritime jurisdiction seawards is outlined together with associated proliferation in overlapping maritime claims, potential maritime boundaries and, almost inevitably, maritime boundary disputes. A key driver for expanding coastal State claims to maritime jurisdiction was the desire to gain access to valuable offshore resources. In frontier province a lead-time of decade from discovery to the production of 'first oil' can be regarded as realistic. This, in turn, has implications for the potential role of disputed oil and gas resources to address looming, if not immediate, energy security concerns. The Potential seabed energy resources of disputed areas should be reappraised such that 'oil factor' is kept in perspective and not overplayed. Nonetheless, the lure of offshore EL Dorados remains compelling and is therefore likely to prove to be hard to erase.

Keywords: EL Dorado effect; energy security concerns; maritime boundary disputes; oil factor; potential seabed energy resources



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