The FINANCIAL — The recent BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will soon trigger an avalanche of offshore oil development legislation, which may slash the number of operators authorized to develop offshore oil, an international marine lawyer said, according to RIA Novosti.
International and national legislation related to the consequences of offshore oil accidents is still not sufficiently developed, in contrast to the huge number of regulations related to oil tanker spills, says international marine lawyer Dr. Sergei Vinogradov of Dundee University's Center for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy.
"That's why every international major accident in this sphere drives the development of offshore oil production legislation," he added.
The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico in April killed 11 workers and caused America's worst-ever environmental disaster.
"The United States was lucky that the explosion hit a drill rig belonging to a rich and financially reliable operator, otherwise it could have had to tackle the consequences of the oil spill mostly by itself," Vinogradov said.
"There is a strong possibility that future offshore exploration laws will restrict Mickey Mouse operators from conducting offshore development, so as to protect coastal states from the necessity of tackling the financial and environmental damage alone," Vinogradov said.
BP set up its own $20 billion escrow account immediately after the Deepwater Horizon explosion to cover the costs of dealing with the clean-up and compensation claims.
The company also established a Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), financial fund, to which all claims are being submitted. Some 42,000 claims had been handed to the GCCF by September and over 4,900 claimants have already been compensated. "In fact, BP is now paying out money to all affected; $399 million has already been allocated for this," Vinogradov said.
Russia should learn its own lessons from the BP crisis, Yelena Andreeva, expert from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for Systems Analysis said. "The development of offshore legislation is in its infancy in Russia. However, Russia plans to launch offshore development in the Caspian Sea and the Arctic, where any failure would be even more disastrous than this in the Gulf of Mexico due to the climatic and environmental conditions," she said.
"That's why we in Russia should urgently get involved in developing advanced offshore legislation," she said.