Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gazprom Neft ships the first "Arctic Oil" from Prirazlomnoye, site of the Arctic Sunrise protest last fall

GCaptain and others report that on Friday, April 18, Gazprom Neft shipped the  first 70,000 metric tons of "Arctic Oil" from its Prirazlomnoye platform. Platts reports that the Prirazlomonoye field,  some 60 km offshore the Pechora Sea, "is expected to reach its peak output of some 6 million mt/yer, or 120,000 b/d, by 2020."

According to Reuters, President Putin, speaking by video to workers on the platform, stated:  "This, in essence, is the beginning of great and large-scale extraction of minerals and oil by our country in the Arctic." 

Russian environmental groups, among others, have expressed concern about Russia's ability to operate the remote platform safely. The Greenpeace protest there last fall led to the crew's detention, its vessel's impounding and the Netherlands request for provisional measures from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). On November 22, 2013, ITLOS ordered the release of the Arctic Sunrise and the detained persons upon the posting of a bond. Russia did not appear at the hearing, having rejected the tribunal's jurisdiction. For more on the jurisdictional aspects of the case see this ASIL Insights posting. The crew have all been released; Greenpeace filed a formal petition for the vessel's release on March 3, 2014.

Friday, April 18, 2014

1) U.S. Think tanks weigh in on Arctic Oil and Gas Development 2) Fourth Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon: Arctic Lessons

Three recent publications from Washington DC/New York think tanks in late March all address Arctic security and resource development from a U.S. perspective:

The Brookings Institution
Policy Brief | March 24, 2014
Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.

The Center for a New American Security
Policy Brief | March 25, 2014
Emerging Arctic Security Challenges

The Council on Foreign Relations
CFR "InfoGuide" | March 25, 2014
The Emerging Arctic!/?cid=otr_marketing_use-arctic_Infoguide#!

Also, on April 20th the Fourth Anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon is upon us, and at least two U.S. institutions are marking it by drawing lessons learned for Arctic drilling:

April 17 Resources for the Future:

UPDATE 5/7/2014: For a report on the Resources for the Future event see the story in Oil and Gas Journal:, with reporting as well on an April 21 conference sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Council 

April 25  Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment/Duke Energy Initiative -

Notably, the federal regulator responsible for offshore oil and gas development on the U.S. outer continental shelf in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas is expected to issue ARCTIC SPECIFIC regulations soon.  The rule-making was announced last year: U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environment and Enforcement (BSEE) Review of Alaska Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Drilling Standards, REGULATIONS.GOV (June 6, 2013),!docketDetail;D=BOEM-2013-0035 .  I will write again when the regulations are promulgated.

In this connection see the Pew Environment site
1) for its excellent paper that has helped inform the expected Arctic-specific U.S. offshore regulations (an early version was submitted during the public comment period)
2) for a blog entry also marking the Fourth Anniversary of the DWH

This United States-specific blogpost concludes with a long overdue reference to a December 2013 White Paper by Professor Wendy Jacobs and her students at Harvard's Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic on "Suggested Indicators of Environmentally Responsible Performance of Offshore Oil and Gas Companies Proposing to Drill in the U.S. Arctic," available here:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 and the Rule of Law Committee for the Oceans

Many readers of this blog will be familiar with The Rule of Law Committee for the Oceans, directed by Caitlyn Antrim.  Earlier this week ROLCO re-launched its website, which is now available at The site covers a much broader range of topics than the Arctic Oceans, but it provides essential context for the importance of the Law of the Sea Convention to the Arctic.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canada's Partial Submission (Atlantic) and Preliminary Indication (Arctic) to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf/CLCS

Given last week's notable events  surrounding the Canadian Submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), your blogger is resurfacing before her promised 2014 re-start date to post a bare minimum of some of the most helpful links on the topic.  Regular posts will resume in the New Year, with the end of your blogger's sabbatical and her return from Alaska.

December 7, 2013, was the ten year anniversary of Canada joining the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under  Convention rules, December 6, 2013, was Canada's deadline for submitting information to the CLCS on the limits of the Canadian continental shelf.

Canadian scientists and diplomats have been laying the groundwork for Canada's CLCS submission for approximately a decade. Canada's partial submission to the CLCS on December 6 covered Atlantic Canada [link to the Executive Summary in English or French] but not the Arctic Ocean. Instead, Canada filed Preliminary Information for the Arctic region [link to the PI in English or French].  Some had anticipated that Canada would include both regions in one submission but media reports surfaced last week that Prime Minister Harper had requested further information regarding the relationship between North Pole and the Canadian submission. According to media reports the North Pole was not included in the continental shelf information to which the Prime Minister was reacting.  The Canadian Broadcasting Company, reporting on a December 9, 2013, news conference, quoted Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird explaining Canada's approach:

"We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada's claim to the North Pole," said Baird.

Several Canada-based media sources include interpretations of last week's events from two Canadian scholars of international policy, Michael Byers and Rob Hubert.  The Christian Science Monitor interprets Russian Prime Minister Putin's order last week to increase military presence in the Arctic as a direct response to the Canadian Preliminary Information at the CLCS regarding the Arctic.  By contrast, Xinhua and the India Daily News reflect a more measured approach, both quoting Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Sergei Donskoy, as saying:

'Actual delimitation of the continental shelf in the Northern Ocean is not today's or even tomorrow's issue.' Donskoy said Russia, Canada and Denmark have the common interest of persuading the CLCS of the geological composition of the Northern Ocean's bed.

Russia and the Kingdom of Denmark, by virtue of Greenland, are considered to have the potential to include the North Pole in their submissions to the CLCS.  A cursory listing of Arctic-relevant submissions to date, and anticipated future submissions, is provided by the Arctic Institute of North America.

The CLCS will consider  Canada's Partial Submission for the Atlantic region in summer 2014, as the CLCS indicated in its Statement regarding the Partial Submission:
"The consideration of the partial submission made by Canada will be included in the provisional agenda of the thirty-fifth session of the Commission to be held during July-August 2014."

Icebreaking into the Arctic

The USCGC HEALY embarked Barrow, Alaska, in August 2008 to map the US extended continental shelf, or ECS, in the Arctic Ocean (HLY 0805). Healy sailed again from 7 August to 16 September, 2009 (HLY 0905) to continue ECS mapping, joining with the Canadian icebreaker, the Louis S. St.-Laurent. The two vessels mapped together again in 2010 (see HLY1002) and 2011 (HLY1102).

As the only law professor on the science crew, I was along on HLY 0805 and 0905 to better understand
the science behind the legal process that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes for states making ECS submissions. As to why the US is mapping now, even though it has not yet acceded to the Convention, read on both here, and in the Law of the Sea notes below.

Thanks to
Vermont Law School and especially to Larry Mayer, Director of the University of New Hampshire's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, for making my part in the trip possible.
Thanks, as well, to Adriane Colburn, for opening new windows on and for the deep.