Sergei Vinogradov & Smith I. Azubuike
The Arctic has enormous hydrocarbon potential which is attracting international oil companies to invest, explore and exploit its reserves. Drilling in this region presents infrastructural, technological and environmental challenges with high accidental pollution risks involved. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, there are serious concerns about the effects and legal consequences of a possible major oil spill. This calls into question the adequacy of existing global and regional regulatory frameworks governing accidental pollution, particularly in such important area as oil pollution damage liability and compensation. It is important that an international regime is in place that provides prompt and adequate compensation to the victims of pollution and remedial measures necessary to protect the Arctic environment and innocent third parties. This paper examines and evaluates global and regional regulations pertinent to pollution resulting from offshore petroleum operations in the Arctic, focusing especially on accident pollution liability and compensation from offshore facilities. A regional intergovernmental framework or an industry-wide compensation scheme would be among the most obvious options in addressing the apparent gap in the existing environmental regime of the Arctic.