In the laws of many States such as Norway, Australia, Nigeria, the US and the UK, there is to be found legislation governing the abandonment or decommissioning disused offshore oil and gas installations. Additionally and especially as many of the offshore installations fall outside a State's territorial waters and into waters otherwise covered by international law, there are many international agreements and regulations equally providing for the standards and manner in such abandoned structures may be disposed off or otherwise handled.

National and International regulations on the decommissioning of abandoned or disused offshore oil and gas installations have in the years past gone through a metamorphosis. In considering the stages through which international regulations (and to a lesser extent national regulations) have progressed, it is very easy to recognise two very distinct phases, the pre-Brent Spar era and the post-Brent Spar. The phases are discernible in that after the Brent Spar incident, international organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation, Oslo and such like Regional Organisations had to revisit their guidelines, rules and regulations on the subject.

This paper therefore proposes to consider in detail, the comparative law on abandonment in selected jurisdictions, the international legal and regulatory regime on abandonment both pre-Brent Spar and post Brent Spar. In doing so, the paper would reveal that to a large extent, the identified inadequacies of the regime pre-Brent spar made the turnaround in regulation pretty inevitable. The paper would contend that the inadequacy of the international regime pre-Brent Spar made the incident rather inevitable. The paper concludes with a discussion as to how the abandonment issue may be fairly expected to develop into the future.

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