Cover Page

Cite item


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.

postgraduate student of the International law department

bldg. 13, 1, Leninskie Gory str., 119991, Moscow, Russia


  1. Bekyashev, K.A. (ed.) (2009) Mezhdunarodnoe publichnoe pravo: uchebnik [International Public Law: Textbook]. Moscow, Prospekt Publ. (in Russian).
  2. Berlingieri, F. (2015) International Maritime Conventions (Volume 2): Navigation, Securities, Limitation of Liability and Jurisdiction. New York, Informa Law Publ.
  3. Bishop, A. (2016) Law of Salvage. In: Attard, D.J., Fitzmaurice, M., Ignacio, A., Martínez, N., Belja, E. (eds.) The IMLI Manual on International Maritime Law: Volume II: Shipping Law. Oxford, Oxford University Press Publ. 474-501.
  4. Borodavkin, P.P. (2006) Morskie Neftegazovye Sooruzheniya. Chast' 1. Konstruirovanie. [Offshore Oil and Gas Structures. Part 1. Designing]. Moscow: Nedra-Biznestsentr Publ. (in Russian).
  5. Chandrasekaran, S., Jain, A.K. (2017) Ocean Structures: Construction, Materials, and Operations.Boca Raton, CRC Press Publ.
  6. Dux, T. (2011) Specially Protected Marine Areas in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): The Regime for the Protection of Specific Areas of the EEZ for Environmental Reasons Under International Law. Berlin, LIT Verlag Münster Publ.
  7. Esmaeili, H. (2001) The Legal Regime of Offshore Oil Rigs in International Law. Aldershot, Ashgate Dartmouth Publ.
  8. Gavouneli, M. (1995) Pollution from Offshore Installations. London, Graham & Trotman Publ.
  9. Gavrilina, E.A. (2018) Yurisdiktsiya pribrezhnogo gosudarstva v otnoshenii plavuchei burovoi ustanovki v zavisimosti ot mesta (raspolozheniya) proizvodstva burovykh rabot v prostranstvakh Mirovogo okeana [Jurisdiction of the Coastal State in Relation to a Floating Drilling Rig Depending on the Site (Location) of Drilling Operations in the World Ocean]. Energy law forum. (1), 43–51. (in Russian).
  10. Healy, N.J., Sweeney, J.C. (1991) Basic Principles of the Law of Collision. Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce. 22 (3), 359-404.
  11. Kashubsky, M. (2016) Offshore Oil and Gas Installations Security: An International Perspective, Boca Raton, CRC Press Publ.
  12. Kolodkin, A.L., Guculyak, V.N., Bobrova, Y.V. (eds.) (2007) Mirovoi okean. Mezhdunarodnopravovoi rezhim. Osnovnye problemy. [The World Ocean: International Legal Regime. The main problems]. Moscow: Statut Publ. (in Russian).
  13. Lazarev, M.I. (1972) Pravovoi rezhim morskikh burovykh i inykh ustanovok [Legal Regime of Offshore Drilling Installations and other Structures]. Moscow: Institut gosudarstva i prava USSR Academy of Sciences Publ. (in Russian).
  14. Lowe, V. (2013) Ships. In: Boschiero, N., Scovazzi, T., Pitea, C., Ragni C., (eds.) International Courts and the Development of International Law: Essays in Honour of Tullio Treves. Berlin: Springer Publ. 291-298.
  15. Molodcov, S.V. (1987) Mezhdunarodnoe morskoe pravo [International Maritime Law]. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya Publ. (in Russian).
  16. Nordquist, M.H., Nandan, S., Rosenne, S. (eds.) (1993) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982: A Commentary. Volume II. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publ.
  17. O’Connell, D.P. (1984) The International Law of the Sea: Volume II. Oxford: Clarendon Press Publ.
  18. Paik, J.K., Thayamballi, A.K. (2007) Ship-Shaped Offshore Installations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Publ.
  19. Papadakis, N. (1997) The International Legal Regime of Artificial Islands. Leyden: Sijthoff Publ.
  20. Papanicolopulu, I. (2018) International Law and the Protection of People at Sea, Oxford: Oxford University Press Publ.
  21. Park, P. (2013) International Law for Energy and the Environment. Boca Raton: CRC Press Publ. Peplowska, Z. (2010) What is a Ship? The Policy of the International Fund for Compensation for
  22. Oil Pollution Damage: The Effect of the Greek Supreme Court Judgment in the Slops Case. Aegean Review of the Law of the Sea and Maritime Law. Vol. 1. No 1. 157–164.
  23. Pereira, R. (2016) Pollution from Seabed Activities. In: Attard, D., Fitzmaurice, M., Martinez, N., Hamza, R. (eds.) The IMLI Manual on International Maritime Law: Volume III: Marine
  24. Environmental Law and International Maritime Security Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press Publ. 95–138.
  25. Perfilov, V.A., Gabova, V.V., Tomareva, I.A., Kanavec, U.V. (eds.) (2017) Proektirovanie i stroitel'stvo morskikh neftegazovykh sooruzhenii: v 2-h ch. Chast' 1 [Offshore Oil and Gas Installations Design and Construction: in 2 Parts. Part 1]. Volgograd: VolgGTU Publ. (in Russian).
  26. Richards, K.R. (2011) Deepwater Mobile Oil Rigs in the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Uncertainty of Coastal State Jurisdiction. Journal of International Business and Law. Vol. 10. No 2. 387–411.
  27. Rothwell, D.R., Stephens, T. (2016) The International Law of the Sea. London: Bloomsbury Publ.
  28. White, M. (1999) Offshore Craft and Structures: A Proposed International Convention. Australian Mining Petroleum Law Journal. Vol. 18. No 1. 21–27.

Copyright (c) 2019 Abramov N.S.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies