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Legal framework governing environmental regulation of the oil and gas industry - Essay Example

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The essay begins with a brief background on the nexus between the offshore oil and gas industry and the environment, gives an overview of the legal framework governing environmental regulation of the oil and gas industry in the UK and compares the legal framework of the UK and of the Netherlands. …
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Legal framework governing environmental regulation of the oil and gas industry
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Download file to see previous pages The paper tells that the constant need for energy in the modern world has made the offshore oil and gas industry a vital one for society. Without oil and gas, commerce will grind to a halt and daily life will be irreparably changed. A future without oil and gas is difficult to imagine. And yet, the oil and gas industry are also responsible for some of the biggest environmental disasters that the world has known, making it imperative to set up stringent regulations to ensure that environmental catastrophes and adverse ecological consequences are prevented, or at least mitigated. It then becomes necessary to balance these two sometimes competing interests and craft a regulatory framework that will take into account industry imperatives of the oil and gas sector, whilst at the same time ensuring that resource sustainability issues are adequately addressed. This balancing act, however, is not so easily done. Environmentalists argue that the environmental regulations are not enough and that companies can still routinely flout the prohibitions, causing long-term damage to the planet. On the other hand, industry players say that the restrictions are too heavy-handed, thus unduly curtailing their business. It is in light of this that this paper evaluates the legal framework – international treaties, EU directives, national legislation – of the UK. The objective of this paper is to determine whether or not this is a case of “over-regulation” or “under-regulation”....
The Offshore Oil and Gas Industry and the Planet Experts have identified the three major environmental problems caused by the oil and gas industry to be air pollution, acid rain and global warming. These problems are found in the entire production chain, from manufacture to distribution to consumption of the oil and gas. According to Gao: environmental problems start right away with exploration activities such as seismic  surveys and geological prospecting, albeit the environmental interference and disturbance at this stage are limited. Second, it is interesting to observe that, in the upstream operations, environmental problems and their impacts tend to increase and build up along with the project's progress, from the initial visibility and acoustic issues at the exploration phase, accidental spills and blow-out at the development stage, and to operational discharge and emissions such as gas flaring during the production period1.  This is because of the precarious nature of oil and gas extraction and emission. The problem is also political because many of these offshore oil and gas extractions take place in the developing world, where vulnerable communities are hard put to defend their resources from external influences, thus jeopardising the sustainability of these resources and availability for their own consumption. Without regulation, what the world will have in its hands is a veritable time bomb – ticking and waiting to explode. Legal framework of the offshore oil and gas industry The legal framework of the offshore oil and gas industry in the United Kingdom is composed of several components. The primary international treaties that govern offshore operations are the MARPOL (73/78) which is made to apply to Merchant ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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