On April 20, 2010, the world was shocked when an accident occurred at the mobile deep-water offshore rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to an unprecedented spill that continued for several months with a total loss of several million barrels of oil. Immediately after the incident, the obvious question was asked whether the operator (BP) could be held liable to compensate for the damage that resulted from the incident. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, steps were taken to force BP to make funds available for compensation of the victims in the light of its obligations under the US Oil Pollution Act. However, in other jurisdictions the question also arose as to how liability and compensation for the consequences of such an incident would be regulated. It appeared that whereas oil spills resulting from tankers had been largely regulated, to some extent to the surprise of many, there was no international convention with respect to civil liability and compensation for damage resulting from offshore oil and gas activities. This also led to great concern within the European Union and resulted, inter alia, in legislative action by the European Commission leading to a Directive (2013/30/EU of June 12, 2013) on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations. At the same time, the European Commission also commissioned an in-depth study into the liability and compensation for damage resulting from offshore oil and gas activities, where these activities occur in European waters. This study started in the fall of 2012, and the results were delivered in October 2013. Subsequently, the team of writers has substantially revised and updated the policy report into an academic study, of which this book is the result.
The aim of this book is not only to provide insights, inter alia, by focusing on past incidents, on the risks related to offshore incidents but also to provide an in-depth analysis of existing legal regimes at both the international and EU levels, as well as by analyzing various domestic legal regimes.