INTERNATIONAL LEGAL STATUS OF THE OFFSHORE MOBILE OIL AND GAS INSTALLATIONS

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Abstract


Mobile offshore oil and gas installations are the essential infrastructural facilities for the oil and gas industry. The present-day offshore installations are able to explore, extract, store and offload hydrocarbons, thus ensuring the complete cycle of offshore fields development. Nonetheless, multifunctionality of mobile oil and gas installations makes it difficult to define their international legal status. Under the UNCLOS 1982, the mobile offshore oil and gas installations international status is uncertain. Due to dualistic nature, the mobile installations should be considered under the category of “instal- lations” during the hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation operations and be classified as “ships” while navigating. The article seeks to analyse a set of international law provisions, that define the mobile offshore oil and gas installations international legal status. It is intended to assess whether the existing legal regulations meet the needs of a present-day offshore industry. To this end, the article addresses the relevant provisions of international maritime conventions, that define the status of mobile oil and gas installations in accordance with their object and purpose. The study finds that there are at least four distinct approaches towards the definition of the mobile installations international legal status. The author concludes that the differentiated approaches towards the definition of the mobile installations international legal status for the object and purpose of the various maritime treaties is a substantial shortcoming of the applicable international legal framework. The study attempts to make the case for unification of a “dual approach”, that treats mobile offshore units as an “installations” or “ships” depending upon the function preformed. Elaborating further on the unification proposal the author argues for the improvement of the “dual approach” through the specific process-related criteria, that establish the exact moment of the international legal status change.


About the authors

Nikita S. Abramov

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: AbramovNS@iCloud.com
bldg. 13, 1, Leninskie Gory str., 119991, Moscow, Russia

postgraduate student of the International law department

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