The well from hell: reviewing regional integration and transboundary coordination in offshore oil and gas development in the western Indian ocean region

The Eastern Africa Coastline - also known as the Western Indian Ocean - has become the new frontier for offshore oil and gas development following promising discoveries in the region. In the past decade, various public and private stakeholders have rushed to exploit this previously inaccessible underwater resource which seems to promise substantial economic growth. Despite these developments, offshore installations present several ecological challenges globally and the industry has been described as dangerous and complex. Not only does it require the best technological equipment, offshore oil and gas development cannot thrive under a weak, unilaterally implemented regulatory framework.
Imagine conducting an ‘open heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark’.1 This is what offshore oil deep water repairs have been likened to; the truth of which became evident following the Montara rig leak3 and the Gulf of Mexico blowout4 where the remediation of accidents in deep water proved extremely complex. In fact, in describing the offshore oil industry, Mitropoulos defined the ardent search as ‘deep, distant, dangerous and difficult’