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Mechanism Design for the Fiery Ice

By R.A. (Roy) Partain


Offshore methane hydrates present a potentially abundant source of energy and\ud fresh water and may open new pathways to green energy. However, there are\ud certain novel harms and hazards present within the circumstances of developing\ud and producing offshore methane hydrates. Both cataclysmic and non-cataclysmic\ud hazards must be integrated into policy planning for the onset of this new energy\ud resource.\ud The study proceeds in four parts. The first part of the study provides an\ud introduction to the scientific, engineering and commercial characteristics of offshore\ud methane hydrate projects. It also provides reviews of both the potential benefits and\ud the potential hazards of offshore methane hydrates.\ud The second part of the study provides a review of the law and economics\ud theory of accident law as applied to environmental accidents. Rules of civil liability\ud are reviewed to determine when strict liability or negligence might be efficiently\ud employed in risk governance. Further, similar reviews are developed for public and\ud private regulation. A scientific review of the circumstances of offshore methane\ud hydrates finds that the optimal set of rules is a combination of a strict liability\ud paradigm in complementary implementation of public regulations.\ud The third part examines existing laws and conventions to determine which\ud might be applicable to offshore methane hydrates. The study also reviews if their\ud risk governance strategies are in accordance with the recommendations from the\ud second part of the study. It is found that most of the evaluated laws do follow a\ud similar risk governance strategy of strict liability accompanied by public regulation,\ud but that many of the current laws to address offshore oil and gas hazards would not\ud interface with the particular circumstances of methane hydrates.\ud In the fourth part of the study, a summary of the three previous parts is\ud presented and recommendations are made as how to update the existing legal\ud frameworks to accommodate the onset of offshore methane hydrate development\ud and production

Topics: civil liability, regulations, offshore, methane hydrate projects
Year: 2014
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