Transboundary Offshore Aquifers

A Search for a Governance Regime


In Transboundary Offshore Aquifers: A Search for a Governance Regime, Renee Martin-Nagle explains the geologic origins of offshore freshwater aquifers and proposes a governance regime for offshore aquifers that are shared by two or more nations. While the existence of freshwater offshore aquifers under continental shelves has been known for decades, none discovered thus far straddle an international border. 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, and several current legal systems could provide valuable guidance. While laws addressing transboundary land-based aquifers are still in a nascent stage, customary international law for surface water has evolved over centuries and could provide analogous rules for development of another freshwater resource. This monograph explores principles for sharing natural resources and proposes a governance regime for transboundary offshore aquifers.

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Renee Martin-Nagle, J.D. (1984) University of Pittsburgh School of Law, LL.M. (2010) George Washington University Law School, is a PhD Researcher at the University of Strathclyde. Prior to focusing her professional energies on global freshwater issues, she served as General Counsel of Airbus Americas for more than 20 years.

CHAPTER 1: Origin of Offshore Submarine Groundwater
Discovery of Offshore Aquifers
Glacial Origins
Other Origins of Offshore Aquifers
Recent Discoveries and Possible Uses
Vast Meteoric Groundwater Reserves

CHAPTER 2: Legal Principles Governing Maritime Resources
The Convention on the Continental Shelf
The International Court of Justice

CHAPTER 3: Legal Principles Governing Offshore Oil and Gas Development
Early Law
Customary Law
Joint Development Agreements

CHAPTER 4: Legal Principles Governing Land-based Aquifers
Guidance from International Bodies

CHAPTER 5: Perspectives and Conclusion



Lawyers, scientists and academics interested in alternate sources of freshwater, governance of shared offshore and land-based natural resources, and synergies between governance regimes for hydrocarbons and freshwater.
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