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The New Offshore Oil and Gas Installation Abandonment Wave and the International Rules on Removal and Dumping

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With more than 7000 offshore platforms installed globally for hydrocarbon exploitation, the fate of the many platforms nearing the end of their 20–30-year commercial life becomes critical. New decommissioning regions include Southeast Asia and Western Africa, where most offshore oil- and gas-producing countries have not become parties to the 1972 London Convention against dumping nor to its 1996 Protocol. This article discusses the application of these international rules against dumping at sea to the disposal at sea of offshore platforms in these countries. It also explores the way in which relevant instruments of international law could combine to apply to the decommissioning of offshore platforms, including platforms that are light and located in shallow waters, and/or those covered by and/or supporting endangered species. Overall this article challenges the paradigm that full removal should be the primary solution to offshore decommissioning and proposes a case-by-case approach under the guiding principles of the law of the sea and international environmental law.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for International Law, National University of SingaporeSingapore


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