Transboundary Offshore Aquifers

A Search for a Governance Regime

in Brill Research Perspectives in International Water Law
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While the existence of freshwater offshore aquifers under continental shelves has been known for decades, none discovered thus far straddles international boundaries. In the event that an offshore aquifer shared by two or more nations is identified and targeted for development, selection of a governance regime for the aquifer will present a unique challenge, although several current legal systems could provide guidance. The un Convention on the Law of the Sea addresses maritime natural resources in formations such as the continental shelf. Well-established governance principles for development of offshore hydrocarbon reserves would also be relevant. While the law addressing transboundary land-based aquifers is still in a nascent stage, customary international water law has evolved over centuries and could provide guidance for offshore aquifers. This monograph explores principles, and proposes a governance regime for transboundary offshore aquifers.

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References

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Yearbook of the International Law Commission, Vol. ii(2) ‘Shared Natural Resources’ United Nations International Law Commission 2008 accessed 14 March 2016 17 43 pp. 19–22, para. 53 (‘Draft Aquifer Articles’), available athttp://legal.un.org/docs/?path=../ilc/publications/yearbooks/english/ilc_2008_v2_p2.pdf&lang=EFSR

Yearbook of the International Law Commission, Vol. ii(1) ‘Recursos Naturales Compartidos’ United Nations International Law Commission 2010 accessed 14 March 2016 83 87 available athttp://legal.un.org/docs/?path=../ilc/publications/yearbooks/spanish/ilc_2010_v2_p1.pdf&lang=S (in Spanish)

ZimmermanKim Ann ‘Pleistocene Epoch: Facts about the Last Ice Age’ accessed 26 December 2015 livescience, http://www.livescience.com/40311-pleistocene-epoch.html

3

As of 7 February 2016, unclos has 157 signatories and 167 parties. https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetailsIII.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXI-6&chapter=21&Temp=mtdsg3&lang=en (accessed 7 February 2016).

4

F.A. Kohout et al, ‘Fresh Ground Water Stored in Aquifers Under the Continental Shelf: Implications from a Deep Test, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts,’ Water Resources Bulletin Vol. 13(2), pp. 373–386 (1977).

5

Ibid, p. 384; J. Groen et al, ‘Fresh and Moderately Brackish Groundwaters in Coastal Plains and Continental Shelves: Past and Ongoing Natural Processes,’ Proc. swim [Salt Water Intrusion Meeting] 16, Poland, pp. 1–7 (2000), p. 1.

6

Supra, Kohout et al, note 4, p. 384.

7

Ibid, p. 383.

8

Ibid, p. 378.

9

Ibid, pp. 381–382.

10

Ibid, p. 382.

12

Ibid, p. 16.

14

Supra, Groen et al, note 5, p. 5.

15

Ibid, p. 3, referencing Groen, J., ‘Hydrogeological Investigations in Suriname,’ The History of Earth Sciences in Suriname. (1998); J. Groen, J. Velstrab & A.G.C.A. Meesters, ‘Salinization Processes in Paleowaters in Coastal Sediments of Suriname: Evidence from ∂37Cl Analysis and Diffusion Modelling,’ Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 234, pp. 1–20 (2000), p. 18.

16

H. Kooi & J. Groen, ‘Offshore Continuation of Coastal Groundwater Systems; Predictions Using Sharp-interface Approximations and Variable-density Flow Modelling,’ Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 246, pp. 19–35 (2001), p. 31.

19

Ibid, pp. 2, 5.

20

Ibid, p. 2. However, drilling during the past 100 years has disturbed the natural balance of waters and initiated mixing of palaeowater and surface water that has been tainted with pollutants.

21

Ibid, p. 14; K. Hinsby et al, ‘The Ribe Formation in Western Denmark—Holocene and Pleistocene Groundwaters in a Coastal Miocene Sand Aquifers,’ in W. M. Edmunds & C. J. Milne‬, eds., Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: Evolution of Groundwater since the Late Pleistocene, pp. 29–48 (The Geological Society of London 2001), pp. 42–43.

23

Ibid, Rogers & Santosh, p. 357.

26

Ibid, p. 408; Supra, Rogers & Santosh, note 22, p, 366.

27

Kangshan Mao et al, ‘Distribution of Living Cupressaceae Reflects the Breakup of Pangea,’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Vol. 109 (20), pp. 7793–7798 (2012), p. 7793.

30

Supra, Kohout et al, note 4, pp. 375, 377.

31

Mark Person et al, ‘Pleistocene Hydrogeology of the Atlantic Continental Shelf, New England,’ GSA Bulletin, Vol. 115, (11), pp. 1324–1343 (2003), p. 1339.

33

Mark Person et al, ‘Pleistocene Hydrology of North America: The Role of Ice Sheets in Reorganizing Groundwater Flow Systems,’ Reviews of Geophysics, Vol. 45, Paper number 2006RG000206, pp. 1–28 (2007), p. 18.

36

Supra, Groen et al, note 5, p. 1; supra, Edmunds, note 18, p. 2.

37

Peter U. Clark et al, ‘The Last Glacial Maximum,’ Science, Vol. 325, pp. 710–714 (2009), p. 711.

38

Supra, Edmunds, note 18, p. 5.

40

Kurt Lambeck, John Chappell, ‘Sea Level Change Through the Last Glacial Cycle,’ Science, Vol. 292, pp. 679–686 (2001), p. 681.

41

Mark Person et al, ‘Pleistocene Hydrogeology of the Atlantic Continental Shelf, New England,’ GSA Bulletin, Vol. 115 (11), pp. 1324–1343 (2003), p. 1327.

42

Ibid, p. 1337.

46

Thomas M. Church, ‘An Underground Route for the Water Cycle,’ Nature, Vol. 380, pp. 579–580 (1996), p. 579.

48

Whitney DeFoor et al, ‘Ice Sheet–derived Submarine Groundwater Discharge on Greenland’s Continental Shelf,’ Water Resources Research, Vol. 47(W07549), pp. 1–14 (2011), p. 1.

49

Sunil Varma & Karsten Michael, ‘Impact of Multi-purpose Aquifer Utilisation on a Variable-density Groundwater Flow System in the Gippsland Basin, Australia,’ Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 20, pp. 119–134 (2011), p. 132; J. Bourdet, R. Kempton & K. Michael, ‘Palaeo-formation Water Evolution in the Latrobe Aquifer, Gippsland Basin, South-eastern Australia Continental Shelf,’ Geofluids, Vol. 14, pp. 1–24 (2014), p. 2.

51

F. Ruden, ‘The Discovery of a Regional Neogene Aquifer in Coastal Tanzania,’ Coastal Aquifers: Challenges and Solutions, Vol 1, pp. 363–372 (Instituto Geologico y Minero Espana, Madrid 2007), p. 365.

52

Yukiko Kusano et al, ‘Occurrence of Old Groundwater in a Volcanic Island on a Continental Shelf; an Example from Nakano-shima Island, Oki-Dozen, Japan,’ Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 511, pp. 295–309 (2014), p. 308.

54

Supra, Kooi & Groen, note 16, p. 32; E. Custodio, W.M. Edmunds & Y. Travi, ‘Management of Coastal Palaeowaters,’ in W. M. Edmunds & C. J. Milne‬, eds., Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: Evolution of Groundwater since the Late Pleistocene, pp. 313–327 (The Geological Society of London 2001), p. 315.

55

Supra, Cohen et al, note 29, p. 143. The authors caution that conditions different from the assumptions used in modeling could affect the estimate by a factor of ±2. P. 154. To put the volumes in perspective, according to the u.s. Geological Survey, the water estimated by Cohen et al to lie under the Atlantic seaboard—104 km3—is equivalent to the water in all of the world’s rivers. In addition, the volume estimated to lie under the global continental shelves—3×105 km3—is equivalent to more than three times the volume of water in surface lakes and rivers, or all of the ground ice and permafrost on the planet. ‘How Much Water Is There On, In, and Above the Earth?,’ The usgs Water Science School, http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html (accessed on 5 March 2016).

57

Supra, Cohen et al, note 29, p. 155.

60

Vincent E.A. Post et al, ‘Offshore Fresh Groundwater Reserves as a Global Phenomenon,’ Nature, Vol. 504, pp. 71–78 (2013).

63

Denver Nicks, ‘Immense Freshwater Reserves Discovered Beneath Ocean Floor,’ Time, http://science.time.com/2013/12/09/immense-freshwater-reserves-discovered-beneath-ocean-floor (accessed 7 February 2016).

64

Benita Matilda, ‘Scientists Discover Untapped Freshwater Reserves Beneath the Oceans,’ Science World Report, http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/11464/20131209/scientits-disocver-untapped-freshwater-reserves-beneath-the-oceans.htm (accessed 7 February 2016).

65

Emily Thomas, ‘Massive Freshwater Supply Found Trapped Under the Ocean,’ Huffpost Green, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/freshwater-found-under-ocean-_n_4392821.html (accessed 7 February 2016).

66

Philip Ross, ‘Freshwater Reserves Under Ocean Floors “100 Times Greater” than What We’ve Used Since 1900,’ International Business Times, http://www.ibtimes.com/freshwater-reserves-under-ocean-floors-100-times-greater-what-weve-used-1900-1499766 (accessed 7 February 2016).

71

Supra, Post et al, note 60, p. 72.

73

Ibid, p. 75.

74

Ibid, p. 76.

75

Presidential Proclamation 2667, 28 September 1945: ‘Natural Resources of the Subsoil and Sea Bed of the Continental Shelf,’ 10 Federal Register 12303 (1945), 59 Stat 884. Also available athttp://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12332 (accessed 12 November 2015). Some scholars point to a 1942 treaty between Venezuela and the United Kingdom (acting for Trinidad) as the beginning of sovereign claims over the continental shelf. See A. L. Morgan, ‘The New Law of the Sea: Rethinking the Implications for Sovereign Jurisdiction and Freedom of Action,’ 27 Ocean Development & International Law, Vol. 27, pp. 5–29, 12–13 (1996).

78

Ibid, p. 2; supra, Morgan, note 75, p. 7.

79

Presidential Proclamation 2668, 28 September 1945: ‘Coastal Fisheries in Certain Areas of the High Seas,’ 10 Federal Register 12304 (1945), 59 Stat. 885.

80

F.V.W. Penick, ‘The Legal Character of the Right to Explore and Exploit the Natural Resources of the Continental Shelf,’ San Diego Law Review, Vol. 22, pp. 765–778 (1985), p. 769.

81

Supra, Morgan, note 75, p. 11, citing William. Bishop Jr, International Law, Cases and Materials, 3rd ed., pp. 640–644 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1962).

82

Ibid, p. 13.

88

William T. Onorato, ‘Apportionment of an International Common Petroleum Deposit,’ International & Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 17, pp. 85–102 (1968), pp. 89, 92.

90

Ibid, p. 256.

92

Ibid, p. 264.

93

Ibid, p. 297.

95

Marjorie M. Whiteman, ‘Conference on the Law of the Sea: Convention on the Continental Shelf,’ American Journal of International Law, Vol. 52, pp. 629–659, 629 (1958).

96

Ibid, p. 630.

97

Ibid, p. 629.

98

Ibid, p. 631.

100

Ibid, p. 634.

101

Ibid, p. 654.

102

Ibid, pp. 632, 656–657.

103

Ibid, p. 659.

114

Ibid, p. 9.

115

Ibid, p. 25, para. 26.

116

Ibid, p. 20, para. 15.

117

Ibid, pp. 13–14, paras. 3–5.

118

Ibid, p. 22, para. 19; p. 29, para. 39; p. 31, para. 43.

120

Ibid, pp. 25–26, paras. 27–30.

121

Ibid, pp. 28–29, paras. 37–38.

122

Ibid, p. 23, para. 23.

123

Ibid, pp. 32–33, para. 47.

124

Ibid, p. 34, para. 50.

125

Ibid, p. 35, para. 53.

126

Ibid, p. 38, para. 62; p. 41, para. 69.

127

Ibid, p. 45, para. 81.

128

Ibid, p. 36, paras. 57–58.

129

Ibid, p. 47, para. 85.

130

Ibid, pp. 51–2, para. 97.

131

Ibid, p. 54, para. 101.

132

Supra, Jessup Opinion, note 112, p. 72.

133

Ibid, p. 81.

134

Ibid, p. 82.

137

Ibid, p. 32. para. 45.

138

Ibid, p. 44, para. 70.

139

Ibid, p. 49, para. 49.

140

Ibid, p. 43, para. 36.

142

Ibid, p. 29, para, 26.

143

Ibid, p. 28, para. 24.

144

Ibid, p. 30, para. 27.

145

Ibid, p. 31, para. 29.

146

Ibid, p. 33, para. 33.

147

Ibid, p. 33, para. 34.

148

Ibid, p. 37, paras. 42–43.

149

Ibid, pp. 39–40, para. 46.

150

Ibid, p. 56, para. 78.

151

Ibid, p. 56, para. 77.

163

Supra, Jessup Opinion, note 112, p. 83.

164

Ibid, p. 84.

167

William T. Onorato, ‘Apportionment of an International Common Petroleum Deposit,’ International & Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 17, pp. 85–102 (1968), p. 87 (‘Onorato 1968’).

168

Fereidun Fesharaki, ‘Joint Development Of Offshore Petroleum Resources: The Persian Gulf Experience?,’ Energy, Vol. 6 (11), pp. 1325–1334 (1981), p. 1329.

169

Ibid, p. 89.

170

Ibid, pp. 91–92.

171

Ibid, p. 92.

172

Supra, Jessup Opinion, Note 112, p. 83. Jessup’s opinion incorrectly attributes Onorato’s 1968 article to 1958.

173

Supra, Onorato 1968, note 167, pp. 93, 96. Water in confined, non-recharging aquifers has additional similarities to petroleum by being encased in closed geological formations that require effort and skill to access.

174

Supra, Jessup Opinion, note 112, p. 82.

175

Rainer Lagoni, ‘Oil and Gas Deposits Across National Frontiers,’ American Journal of International Law, Vol. 73, pp. 215–243 (1979), pp. 239–240.

176

David M. Ong, ‘Joint Development of Common Offshore Oil and Gas Deposits: “Mere” State Practice or Customary International Law?,’ The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 93(4), pp. 771–804 (1999), p. 780 (‘Ong 1999’).

178

Supra, Onorato 1968, note 167, p. 88 and note 8.

179

Ana E. Bastida et al, ‘Cross-Border Unitization and Joint Development Agreements: An International Law Perspective,’ Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 29, pp. 355–422, 370 (2006–2007).

180

James E. Horigan, ‘Unitization of Petroleum Reservoirs Extending Across Sub-Sea Boundary Lines of Bordering States in the North Sea,’ Natural Resources Law, Vol. 7, pp. 67–76, 73 (1974).

181

Masahiro Miyoshi, ‘The Joint Development of Offshore Oil and Gas in Relation to Maritime Boundary Delimitation,’ International Boundaries Research Unit Maritime Briefing, Vol. 2(5), pp. 1–51, 1 (1999) (‘Miyoshi 1999’).

194

Peter D. Cameron, ‘The Rules Of Engagement: Developing Cross-Border Petroleum Deposits In The North Sea And The Caribbean,’ International & Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 55, pp. 559–585, 572 (2006).

195

William T. Onorato, ‘Apportionment of an International Common Petroleum Deposit,’ International & Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 26, pp. 324–337, 327 (1977).

196

Ibid, pp. 327–328. Onorato restated these principles in a later article. See William T. Onorato, ‘Joint Development of Seabed Hydrocarbon Resources: An Overview of Precedents in The North Sea,’ Energy, Vol. 6 (11), pp. 1311–1324, 1311–1312 (1981) (‘Onorato 1981’).

197

Supra, Lagoni, note 175, p. 229. As discussed earlier, water can only be viewed as a mineral when it is frozen into a solid form.

199

Ibid, p. 233.

200

Ibid, p. 235.

201

Ibid, pp. 222–223.

202

Ibid, p. 223.

203

Ibid, p. 224.

204

Ibid, pp. 226–228.

205

Ibid, p. 236. See also Masahiro Miyoshi, ‘Some Comments on Legal Aspects of Precedents for Joint Development,’ Energy, Vol. 6 (11), pp. 1359–1362, 1360 (1981) (‘Miyoshi 1981’).

206

William T. Onorato, ‘A Case Study in Joint Development: The Saudi Arabia-Kuwait Partitioned Neutral Zone,’ Energy, Vol. 10 (3/4), pp. 539–544, 539–340 (1985).

207

Alberto Szekely, ‘The International Law of Submarine Transboundary Hydrocarbon Resources: Legal Limits to Behavior and Experiences for the Gulf of Mexico,’ Natural Resources Journal, Vol. 26, pp. 733–768, 738, 743 (1986).

208

Ibid, p. 758.

211

Supra, Miyoshi 1981, note 205, p. 1359.

212

Supra, Ana E. Bastida et al, note 179, pp. 358–359.

213

Paul Michael Blyschak, ‘Offshore Oil and Gas Projects amid Maritime Border Disputes: Applicable Law,’ Journal of World Energy Law and Business, Vol. 6(3), pp. 210–233, 217 (2013).

214

Supra, Ong 1999, note 176, pp. 788–791.

215

Ibid, p. 795.

216

Ibid, p. 798.

217

Ibid, p. 800.

218

Ibid, p. 802.

219

David M. Ong, ‘The New Timor Sea Arrangement 2001: Is Joint Development of Common Offshore Oil and Gas Deposits Mandated under International Law?,’ International Journal of Marine & Coastal Law, Vol. 17, pp. 79–122, 95 (2002).

220

Supra, Miyoshi 1999, note 181, pp. 6–39.

246

Supra, Cameron, note 194, p. 576.

248

Owen McIntyre, ‘The Role of Customary Rules and Principles of International Environmental Law in the Protection of Shared International Freshwater Resources,’ Natural Resources Journal, Vol. 46, pp. 157–210 (2006), p. 159.

249

Igor A. Shiklomanov, ‘World Fresh Water Resources,’ in Peter . Gleick, Editor, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources, pp. 13–24 (Oxford University Press 1993), p. 13.

252

Gabriel Eckstein & Yoram Eckstein, ‘A Hydrogeological Approach to Transboundary Ground Water Resources and International Law,’ American University International Law Review, Vol. 19, pp. 201–258 (2003), pp. 210–217.

312

Chidimma C. Okeke, ‘Nigeria, Other African Countries Intensify Efforts on Groundwater Resources,’ Daily Trust (2 April 2014), available athttp://www.dailytrust.com.ng/daily/index.php/environment/20541-nigeria-other-african-countries-intensify-efforts-on-groundwater-resources (accessed 10 February 2016).

341

Ibid, p. iii.

342

Ibid, p. 5, Provision 1(1).

344

Ibid, p. 9, Provision 5.

345

Ibid, p. 12, Provision 6.

346

Ibid, p. 9, Provision 4.

347

Ibid, p. 12, Provision 7.

348

Ibid, p. 13, Provision 8.

349

Ibid, p. 14, Provision 9.

375

Ibid, p. 122, para. 13.

385

Stephen C. McCaffrey, ‘The International Law Commission Adopts Draft Articles On Transboundary Aquifers,’ American Journal of International Law, Vol. 103, pp. 272–293 (2009), p. 288.

387

Ibid, p. 628.

390

Supra, McCaffrey, note 385, p. 283.

412

Renee Martin-Nagle, ‘Fossil Aquifers: A Common Heritage of Mankind,’ Journal of Energy and Environmental Law, Vol. 2, pp. 39–60 (2011), pp. 40, 49–51.

413

W. Todd Jarvis, ‘Unitization: A Lesson in Collective Action from the Oil Industry for Aquifer Governance,’ Water International, Vol. 36:5, pp. 619–630 (2011), pp. 624–628.

414

Supra, Martin-Nagle, note 412, pp. 14, 59–60.

Figures

  • Map of known and proposed offshore freshwater aquifers. Red boxes indicate offshore freshwater aquifers proven by observational data. Green boxes indicate offshore aquifers that may not be entirely fresh, but some fresh water can be inferred based on pore-water composition. Blue boxes indicate places where indirect on-shore evidence indicates the existence of offshore aquifers.

    reprinted with permission from macmillan publishers ltd: nature, vol. 504, copyright (2013).

    View in gallery
  • Effect of sea level rise on continental shelf in Gippsland Basin, Australia.

    source: geofluids, 2014. © 2014 john wiley & sons ltd. reprinted with permission.

    View in gallery
  • Inferred metrics of known offshore freshwater aquifers. In the cross-sections, the blue contour lines indicate total dissolved solid (tds) concentrations (g l−1); distance (km) and elevation (m) relative to mean sea level are indicated along the horizontal and vertical axis, respectively; vertical grey lines indicate well locations where salinity is inferred from water samples and borehole logs; crystalline bedrock or low-permeability sedimentary rocks containing salt groundwater are shown in brown; the black, sub-horizontal lines denote faults; undifferentiated continental shelf sediments are in pale green; and seawater is pale blue. Within the Nantucket and Greenland cross sections, salinity contours are based on numerical model results and well data. The inferred widths, lengths and volumes per kilometer of coastline pertain to the groundwater with a tds concentration of less than 10 g l−1.

    reprinted with permission from macmillan publishers ltd: nature vol. 504, copyright (2013).

    View in gallery

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