The protection of platforms, pipelines and submarine cables under Australian and New Zealand law
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Offshore facilities by and large did not exist before the middle of the nineteenth century, when the first submarine cables were snaked across the world's oceans. Likewise, platforms exploiting undersea resources, most notably oil and gas, did not exist until the middle of the twentieth century, with World War II providing the spur for states to overcome the technological challenges in exploiting the sea bed, and piping oil and gas across the ocean floor.
For Australia and New Zealand these developments have been of tremendous impact. Since the nineteenth century, submarine cables connected the two states to the rest of the world, allowing communication times to be reduced from weeks and months to days, hours and ultimately virtually instantaneously. Today the bulk of telecommunications traffic, including telephone and internet, travels via submarine cable, and for Australia it is worth $5 billion to the national economy. Oil and gas platforms have allowed exploitation of substantial petroleum deposits to the extent that well over 80 per cent of such production in Australia, and virtually all of it in New Zealand, is produced in offshore fields.
As such, the loss or disruption for an extended period of oil and gas supplies from offshore, or the severing of submarine communication links, would have a catastrophic effect on the economies of Australia and New Zealand. This underlies the importance of the protective regimes that exist internationally and domestically to protect these facilities from interference. This chapter considers the regime for the in situ protection of offshore facilities from terrorist attack, including platforms, pipelines and submarine cables under international, Australian and New Zealand law. Thile relevant to an overall strategy to combat terrorism, broader regulatory mechanisms such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code 1 will not be considered.
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