The main objective of this thesis is to analyze how different jurisdictions conduct these environmental impact assessments. Not only are they crucial components of the planning stage of oil companies, these studies are also instruments of accountability to governments and the public at large, enabling a better understandingof the surrounding conditions.
In general, they are required prior to petroleum activities on an area located on the continental shelf and comprise an analysis of the geological, geographical, social and biological characteristics of that area. The focus is to assess the likely impacts thatan oil and gas activity may cause to both the local environment and to those coastal communities that rely on the region for making their living. In addition, the environmental impact assessments are largely concerned with risk management and emergency precautions in case of a possible accident.The scope of this thesis comprises the examination of three distinct legal systems: Norway, Brazil and the United States. The motivation for choosing them comes from the prominent place they all have both in relation to the offshore oil industry and to environmental conservation practices. Also, they all strictly uphold therule of law by enforcing their legal framework in accordance to democratic principles and the separation of powers.