International Governance of Oil Spills from Upstream Petroleum Activities in the Arctic: Response over Prevention?

Daria Shapovalova-Krout* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The discovery of the petroleum resources in the Arctic waters and the rapid loss of sea ice raise concerns over environmental risks of oil development in the Arctic waters. One of the biggest threats to the marine environment from offshore oil production is a large-scale oil spill, akin to Deepwater Horizon. The challenging operating conditions, lack of infrastructure and effective clean-up techniques in the Arctic conditions exacerbate the need to ensure robust regulation of petroleum activities in the region. Whereas national laws vary extensively across the Arctic States, international law does not offer a uniform approach to prevention of and response to oil spills. This paper examines the scope and application of the relevant treaties and argues that a regulatory gap exists in the prevention of oil spills and addressing the challenges of response in Arctic conditions. It further suggests that there is an increasing role for soft-law regional cooperation in addressing these gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-697
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Issue number4
Early online date4 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

The paper is partly based on the author’s PhD thesis submitted to the University of Aberdeen in 2017. The author is grateful to her supervisors Professor Tina Hunter and Dr Catherine Ng, and her examiners Professor Elizabeth Kirk and Professor Timo Koivurova for their time and comments.


  • Arctic Ocean
  • Oil Spills
  • Arctic Governance
  • Marine environment
  • Offshore Energy Sector
  • offshore energy sector
  • marine environment
  • Arctic governance
  • oil spills


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