Briefing paper

Indo-Pacific offshore oil and gas safety and security: managing regional risks

Power resources Risk Australia Pacific Area

Key Points: Indo-Pacific offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation activity is expanding massively in economically and strategically important, environmentally sensitive areas. The risks of offshore oil and gas safety and security incidents that could have regional economic, environmental, human, food, and energy consequences are rising.

  • In addition to man-­‐induced incidents, the often crowded waters of the Indo-­‐Pacific are particularly prone to natural hazards like extreme weather events and seismic activity. The possibility of armed conflict at sea, law and order issues, increasing maritime user intensity, decommissioned installations, and jurisdictional uncertainty add to concerns.
  • Measures to deal with large scale offshore oil and gas safety and security events are often not well developed. Vulnerabilities arise from the lack of capacity and the lack of regional coordination regimes to prevent, respond to and recover from incidents.
  • Some regional states are not parties to relevant international regimes; collective and cooperative maritime safety and security arrangements are lacking. Collaboration between states and other actors: regional entities and industry, is necessary and presents mutually beneficial opportunities; progress should be a high priority.
  • Realistic and uncomfortable expectations must be faced. Sovereignty issues combined with greed for energy resources and commercial benefit may well continue to dominate. The likelihood of offshore oil and gas safety and security disasters in the Indo-Pacific, with major regional consequences, will continue to rise.
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