With Arctic sea ice melting at rates faster than ever before, global climate change is opening up the polar region with its vast hydrocarbon resources to increased oil & gas exploration, exploitation and navigation. The Arctic ecosystem is fragile and any increase in non-regulated industrial activities can be devastating for the environment. The thesis will examine the Arctic legal challenges and environmental protection from oil pollution as one of the important legal issues in connection with offshore oil & gas activities and transportation in the Arctic region. Moreover, this thesis explores current Arctic international legal regime with the focus on Unite Nation Convention on Law of the Sea, Arctic Council and International Maritime Organization’s instrument on recent increasing human activities in the Arctic region.
The thesis contributes by highlighting the key issues that have been arising in this area including gaps in the current international legal regime mainly lack of full coverage and legally non-binding regime governing on the oil & gas activities and transportation. It addresses different approaches as possible options for filling the mentioned gaps through an examination of the Arctic treaty and enhancing the implementation of the current Arctic legal regime.
Morover, the thesis discusses current legal regime governing with a view to ascertaining whether or not it provides an adequate basis for investment by oil & gas companies. Finally, the research examines the BP oil spill incident in Deepwater Horizon as a realworld case for learning lessons to ensure protection of the unique Arctic environment.