This article analyses the governance process of offshore oil and gas activities in the Arctic with the concept of multilevel governance and legal pluralism to address both issues of management of the environment and public participation. The analysis goes beyond the single issue of fragmentation pertaining to the international and supranational levels, to encompass national and regional levels and evaluate how the interactions between those levels structure the policy process and impact the efficiency of environmental management and public participation.
Four paths of reflection arise from the analysis. First it is unlikely that a dualistic vision opposing a normative option and an enabling option opens new avenues for solutions but the evolution of international law and customary international law deserves attention and a certain level of harmonisation may be welcome, for instance to cooperate efficiently on the prevention of an oil spill and the response to it. A second path relates to the institutional settings and proposes considering the stress lines pertaining to the entanglement of public and indigenous rights and authorities and the consequences at the local level. A third path suggests options pertaining to contract law to not only optimise the operator-regulator interface, but also more generally to offer a stable framework for inclusive dialogue between actors. In the end, the analysis of the rationale for engaging in offshore activities in the Arctic region, from a state perspective and from regional government, indigenous shareholders and corporation perspectives, could be helpful in providing relevant actors with arguments to weigh the decision on seismic and drilling activities in relation to risk acceptance.