Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law

Published quarterly, the Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law is the journal of the International Bar Association’s Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law.

Editor, Don C Smith

JERL was launched in January 1983, under the editorship of Professor Terence Daintith, now a Professional Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London.

The Journal's current Editor is Professor Don C Smith (pictured left), Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Program at the University of Denver (US) Sturm College of Law where he teaches Comparative Environmental Law and Contemporary Issues in Oil and Gas. He is assisted by the Journal Board and Editorial Advisory Committee, comprised of members of the Academic Advisory Group (AAG) of IBA SEERIL. Together, they bring to the journal an unsurpassed expertise in all areas of energy and natural resources law.

Featuring contributions written by some of the finest academic minds and most successful practitioners in this area of study, JERL is a highly respected journal committed to reflecting contemporary issues that face the energy and natural resources sectors. 

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Current issue – Vol 34 No 3, August 2016

Thirty years ago this past April an energy disaster took place that changed the history of the 20th century, writes the Journal's editor Don C Smith. Described as 'arguably the biggest single man-made disaster of any kind' in history, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe would change the world in ways no one could have predicted on 26 April 1986. He reminds readers that a special edition of the Journal focusing on the IBA's Climate change justice: challenges and opportunities report is found in the first issue of 2016.

The article offers historical, political and legal analysis of the causes that led to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) 30 years ago in April 1986. The authors consider a range of health, legal, social and political effects of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP, study the post-accident formation of the environmental rights movement and development of citizens' rights to environmental information enshrined in the 1990s in laws of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, which suffered most from the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. The authors make a number of proposals for development of national and international law that will strengthen the guarantees of environmental human rights and processes of rehabilitation of ecological systems in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia affected by the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. The concept of development of the legal status of environmental refugees and ecological disaster zones is proposed as a separate lesson of the disaster.

In this article we explore the extent to which the South African mining industry can contribute to realising positive obligations stemming from socio-economic rights, and in particular, the right of access to water. Our hypothesis is that government, as the primary addressee of socio-economic rights obligations, is unable fully and on its own to realise the right of access to water in South Africa. Because of the ecological impact of mines on water resources and resultant socio-economic externalities that are passed on to society, we argue that mines must contribute to the South African transformative constitutional agenda by realising, albeit in a limited way, positive obligations related to the right of access to water. Our analysis is situated at the interface of three conceptual frameworks within which we theoretically embed the inquiry: the movement from government to governance and the involvement of non-state actors in governance tasks, corporate social responsibility, and human rights obligations of corporations. We suggest in the final instance that a practical way for mines to contribute to the realisation of the right of access to water could be through their statutorily prescribed social and labour plans.

The centrepiece of this paper is Ghana's Public Interest and Accountability Committee with empirical details of its politics of institutional choice and outcomes. The Committee is hailed as a model of 'bottom-up' reform and one of the principal reasons why Ghana is likely to circumvent a 'resource curse' situation associated with its petroleum resources. Far from this optimism, this article outlines key technocratic, political and other structural barriers that have undermined the Committee's profile as a transformative instrument in the oil industry. It draws attention to the limitations of technocratic administrative fixes imposed by in-country and sectoral dynamics.

The ambition to develop oil and gas activities continues to determine what policy instruments governments formulate in the process. Presently governments tend to overhaul their outdated regulatory frameworks in order to secure socio-economic developments for their citizens. One recent policy that has attracted global popularity is the local content requirements in the oil and gas sectors. Local content is a policy tool utilised by governments to generate economic benefits for the local economy, which go beyond fiscal benefits. Local content means the value addition brought to an economy. It includes achieving certain local percentages of labour, goods and services within the oil and gas sectors. Conversely, while there is little variance over the reasons why countries encourage the use of local content, there is hardly a universal definition of what 'local' actually covers, nor is there agreement on what the 'content' should be. Notably the ongoing debate over the implementation of local content objectives remains a controversial subject among industry stakeholders. Consequently, implementing local content requirements does not mean business as usual; in fact achieving certain local percentages of labour, goods and services supplied may not always suffice for projects in the upstream sector if the capacity might run out in countries with a limited industrial base. This article therefore aims at harmonising and possibly unifying a range of instruments as applied in various petroleum regimes with the possibility of assessing an enabling environment through critically evaluating the controversial requirement. Further, this article argues that despite the fact that local content has a universal application, the actual practice (implementation process) varies from country to country and often is based on a number of issues including sovereign goals and strategies which vary considerably as will be discussed throughout the article. Finally, the article attempts to make recommendations that would attain the ultimate goal of a viable local content policy which should be to create jobs at home rather than abroad, by enhancing sustainable industrial growth and national wealth.

This paper examines the nature of the oil and natural gas supply chains, with a particular emphasis on the complex relationship between energy supply and prices. It also seeks to analyse some of the factors that have an impact on global energy supply and some of the factors that have a direct influence on prices, with a focus on geopolitical issues. In this regard, reference is made to specific cases. Finally, there is a brief examination of current trends in the petroleum industry as well as commentary on the impacts of supply imbalances and low prices both globally and for individual countries, whether they are net producers or net importers of petroleum.


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ISSN 0264-6811

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