Regulation of The Upstream Petroleum Sector: A Comparative Study of Licensing and Concession Systems edited by Tina Hunter Published by Edward Elgar, 2015, 392 pp. + xxxiii, £115, hardback.

Date01 July 2019
Published date01 July 2019
RECIEL. 2019;28:223–229.    
DOI: 10 .1111/reel .12297
SYSTEMS edited by Tina Hunter
Published by Edward Elgar, 2015, 392 p p. + xxxiii, £115, har dback.
Tina Hunter’s edi ted book provide s a comprehensive s tudy of the
key legal regimes t hat regulate the upstream petr oleum sector. It is
a useful guide for r eaders who want to have a clearer unde rstand‐
ing on how the petr oleum industr y is regulated in the twenty‐firs t
century. The book i s a highly relevant co ntribution to th e practice
and study of pet roleum law, policy and governan ce and the growing
specialism of pet roleum law could do with mo re comparative studi es
of this nature.
Divided into fou r thematic parts, the b ook begins with an examina
tion of the princi ples of petroleum law. Part I provid es an introductory
overview of the fu ndamentals in petrole um law such as lex petrolea and
the differen t types of legal regi mes for upstream pe troleum exploit ation.
In this part, A lex Warwyk provides an i nteresting critique of th e elusive
concept of lex petrolea. Other key work s have extensively discus sed this
concept, but War wyk’s contribution is a he lpful addition to the exist ing
body of literatu re. It provides a readable acco unt of the role of industry
agreements and investor–State disputes in determining whether there is
an establish ed concept of lex petrolea. However, the chapter could have
distinguishe d itself from other works on lex petrolea if it had di scussed
in more detail th e concept of the social/community licen ce to operate.
While the chapte r does briefly to uch on this point, i t could have been
further en riched if it had provided some r eflections on how this licen ce
affects t he current under standing of the scope of lex petrolea. Further
perspect ives could have been proff ered on how the concept imp acts on
other stakeholders outside the international petroleum industry.
The other chapte r in Part I, by Tina Hunter, focuses on a ccess
to petroleum through the licensing and concessionary framework.
While the title of H unter’s chapter (‘Access t o Petroleum unde r
the Licensing an d Concession Syste m’) suggests a fo cus on these
two petroleu m regimes, its d iscussion exten ds to other contra ct
ing regimes such as s ervice contr acts and pro duction‐sha ring
contracts ( PSCs). The explan ation of the diff erent types of co n
tracting regimes is particularly useful to students and researchers
requiring an overview of the system, explaining how each type
of regime regulates exploitation of petroleum resources in pe
troleum‐producing jurisdictions. Hunter’s chapter also provides
some meaningful perspectives on how North–South geopolitics
impacts up on the choice and utilization of leg al regimes in petro
leum exploitation.
Part I leaves th e reader with som e unanswered que stions. For
instance, de spite its state d focus on ‘Princ iples of Petroleu m
Regulation’, it neither defines nor explains the term ‘principles’. Some
readers may have wa nted to see some engagement wit h the debate
on principle fo rmulation in ene rgy law in genera l. Other auth orita‐
tive works have arg ued that ‘there a re few legal prin ciples of law
specific to the e nergy field and that most en ergy issues have to be
resolved by gener al principles of law esta blished in other context s’.1
It would have been use ful if this part of t he book had discu ssed
whether there is a repertoire of identifiable principles in petroleum
law, as is the case with ot her fields of law such as pu blic international
law and environme ntal law.
Parts II an d III provide a salutar y comparative study on t he regu‐
lation of petrole um provinces. The c hapters in Part II f ocus on mature
petroleum prov inces while Part III focus es on developing provinces .
Again, this re viewer would have liked to h ave seen some deta iled
conceptual disc ussion on the term inologies ‘matur e’ and ‘develop‐
ing’ provinces . The discourse of t hese concepts w ould have been
particularly useful to those studying and researching petroleum law
and regulation . At first glance , the countries ch osen for the com‐
parative stud y in Part II sugg est that the focu s is on mature basins
in the developed N orth. However, Part III shows th at this is not the
case as Japan is inc luded in the study on develo ping provinces. This
inclusion of an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and
Development) St ate suggests that the classif ication of ‘mature’ and
‘developing’ provi nces is not exclusively based on the N orth–South
geopolitica l dichotomy. To aid further understa nding, it would have
been benefic ial to see some explanator y text at the beginning of t he
book providing clarification of these terminologies.
This does not mea n that there is a comp lete absence of defi
nitional langu age in these chapte rs. For instan ce, Greg Gordon
and John Paters on’s chapte r attempts to describe the con cept of
a ‘mature basin’. Hunter also p rovides furt her reflecti ons on the
concept of ‘mature pr ovinces’ in Part IV of the book . But this may
also raise new que stions for peo ple new to this fiel d: is a ‘prov
ince’ the same as a ‘ba sin’? To aid the learning pr ocess, Part s II
and III could have inc luded an instr uctional ope ner that explain s
what both terms invo lve. This obser vation also appl ies to other
technical ter ms within the boo k. A glossar y of terms could have
been include d, especially si nce the back cover sug gests that it is
meant to be a ‘useful e ntry point for student s embarking on study
in petroleum law’.
1 See,e.g.,A JBradbroo k,‘Energ yLaw:TheNegl ectedAsp ectofEnviron mentalLaw ’
(1993) 19 Melbourne U niversity L aw Review 1; and R Hef fron et al, ‘A Treatise for E nergy
Law’ (2018) 11 Jou rnal of World Ener gy Law and Busin ess 34.
© 2019 John Wiley & Son s Ltd, 9600 Garsing ton Road, Oxford OX4 2D Q, UK and 350 Main Stre et, Malden, MA 02148, U SA.

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