The Application of Civil Liability for the Risks of Offshore Methane Hydrates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A potentially huge untapped resource of natural gas exists just offshore almost every coastal state in the world, the resource called methane hydrates. The opportunities for fiscal revenues, energy security, and freshwater resources will be attractive to many of those states; for many, the commercial development of offshore methane hydrates could bring substantial improvements to public welfare.

But offshore methane hydrates present new and potentially cataclysmic risks in their extraction and production. There are risks of voluminous greenhouse gas emissions, subsea landslides, and tsunamis. There are also a variety of non-cataclysmic risks posed by the development of offshore methane hydrates. Most of these risks are novel and were not present in earlier offshore oil and gas extraction projects.

The need to provide legal guidance to optimize the reduction of risk and hazards from the extraction and production of offshore methane hydrates should be addressed in advance of initial commercial operations. This paper calls for the application of civil liability rules to be a part of the governance mechanism of that environment risk, and in particular, for the rule of strict liability to be applied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-318
Number of pages93
JournalFordham Environmental Law Journal
Volume26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • Law and economics
  • tort law
  • civil liability
  • regulations
  • private regulations
  • methane hydrates
  • gas hydrates
  • energy law
  • accident law
  • Shavell
  • Posner
  • Faure
  • offshore
  • energy
  • natural gas
  • strict liability
  • negligence

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