While the international legal framework for offshore energy activities is anchored in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (losc), it “is complemented by an array of relevant instruments and measures at the global, regional and national levels”. This article examines the role of generally accepted international rules and standards (gairs) in the implementation of the losc in the offshore energy sector, with particular reference to the decommissioning of offshore installations, marine pollution from continental shelf exploration and exploitation, submarine cables and pipelines, and shipping. This analysis reveals that this role has been one of facilitating, strengthening and updating the losc in the light of legal and technical developments since its conclusion—a process of normative reinforcement rather than normative conflict. Yet, as highlighted in the conclusion, significant gaps nonetheless remain in the regulation of offshore energy activities.
Montego Bay 10 December1982in force 16 November 1994 1833 United Nations Treaty Series (unts) 396.
M. D. Evans‘The Law of the Sea’ in ibid. (ed) International Law (4th edn. Oxford University Press Oxford 2014) 651–687 at p. 652; E. Posner and A. Sykes ‘The Economic Foundations of the Law of the Sea’ (2010) 104 ajil 569–596. Tan (n 20) at p. 225 also refers to the gairs formula as responsive to the need for flexibility and dynamism shaped by subsequent development of the law.
London 30 November1990in force 13 May 1995 1891 unts 51 (Convention); London 14 March 2000 in force 14 June 2007  atnif 9 (Protocol).
Cmnd 4205 (1969); Cmnd 8942 (1983).
Barcelona 16 February1976in force 12 February 1978 1102 unts 27 and (n 31). To date seven Protocols have been added to the Convention addressed to integrated coastal management (2008) vessel-source pollution and emergency response (2002); hazardous waste (1996) pollution from continental shelf exploration and exploitation (1994) specially protected areas and biodiversity (1995) land-based pollution (1980) oil and other harmful substances in emergencies (1976) and dumping (1976). The Barcelona Convention has been viewed as a prototype for the other regional seas agreements concluded under unep’s regional seas programme. See generally P. Sand Marine Environment Law in the United Nations Environment Programme: An Emergent Eco-Regime (London Tycooly Publishing 1988); and R. R. Churchill and A. V. Lowe The Law of the Sea (rev edn Manchester Manchester University Press 1999) ch. 15.
Helsinki 9 April1992in force 17 January 2000 1507 unts 167.
See E. Zolfagharifard‘Nord Stream: the world’s largest gas pipeline’The Engineer4 May 2010 available at http://www.theengineer.co.uk; accessed 18 August 2014; N. Cho and F. Geelhoed ‘The Nord Stream Pipeline Project—A Brief Overview of its Legal and European Relevance for Supply Security’ in M. M. Roggenkamp and U. Hammer (eds) European Energy Law Report VI (Intersentia Mortsel/Cambridge 2009) 227–247; and C. Redgwell ‘Contractual and Treaty Arrangements Supporting Large European Transboundary Pipeline Projects: Can Adequate Human Rights and Environmental Protection Be Secured?’ in M. Roggenkamp L. Barrera-Hernandez D. Zillman and I. del Guayo (eds) Energy Networks and the Law: Innovative Solutions in Changing Markets (Oxford University Press Oxford 2012) 102–117.