Joseph J. Ward


In this Comment, the author provides an overview of the geography of Antarctica and describes the key treaty agreements governing the region. This is followed by a review of the prospects of oil exploitation in Antarctica and the surrounding seas, and an explanation of the necessary conditions for feasible oil exploitation. In another segment of this Comment, the author predicts the effect a significant Antarctic oil discovery would have on the Antarctic Treaty System and points out problems with the current Antarctic minerals regime, suggesting that the sovereignty issue must be resolved if future conflict is to be avoided in the region. The Comment then examines the alternative land use regimes proposed for resolving the sovereignty dilemma and environmental concerns surrounding the Antarctic oil issue as they relate to tourism and scientific research activities in the region. After discussing policy considerations impacting the future of Antarctic oil and suggests ways of remedying the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty's (Protocol) current inadequacies, the Comment concludes by calling for recognition of sovereign rights in Antarctica, which in conjunction with environmentally sensitive regulations, will ensure sensible oil development when sizable oil fields are discovered in the region.