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LLM student successfully defends thesis

(May 16) On May 8, LLM student Kofi Owusu (supervised by Professor Sharon Mascher) successfully defended his thesis titled "Regulation of Operational Pollution from Offshore Oil and Gas Activities in Ghana: Lessons from Norway." We spoke to Kofi about his research and his plans for the future.

Please provide a summary of your research.

My research was basically a comparative analysis of the Ghanaian and Norwegian regimes for regulating operational pollution. I engaged in a doctrinal analysis of the Norwegian regime and identified the use of performance-based regulation as a key element of their regime. I argued for the adoption of performance-based regulation instead of prescriptive-based regulation in offshore environmental regulation of oil and gas activities due to its ability to promote flexibility, engender technological innovation and encourage the use of cost effective means of meeting performance-based. I made recommendations for adoption by Ghana, and to a large extent most countries with offshore regimes, which are likely to ensure an effective regulatory regime.

What interested you in this area of the law?

The need to maintain a fair balance between the protection of the environment and generation of revenue from oil production was a factor that drew this area of the law and pursuing my research. The opportunity to use regulation as an effective tool to balance environmental protection and economic interests also got me interested in this area of the law.

Tell me why this area of research is important.

Operational pollution arising from offshore oil and activities has in recent times become a growing concern for most governments and regulators. Many governments are experimenting with various ways in order to deal with this problem. My work provides a solution to this problem by advocating for the adoption of performance-based approach not only in the regulation of operational pollution but in environmental regulation of the offshore oil and gas industry in general.

Now that you’ve completed your LLM, what are your plans?

My immediate plan now is to publish my work in scholarly research journals and make a series of presentations to the governments, regulators and oil companies in Ghana and across the globe on the need to adopt performance-based approach in environmental regulation of offshore oil and gas activities. I also plan to kick start my career by working with a regulatory body to gain some practical knowledge and experience.

What made you choose the University of Calgary to complete your LLM?

Apart from being located in the heart of the oil industry in Alberta and the rich cultural diversity of its student population, two main factors made me settle on the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary to pursue my LLM. First, after my online search I realized that faculty had an excellent research reputation in the legal academia in the area of Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Law. Secondly, the quality and diverse research experience of the professors at the faculty really impressed me and made the choice very easy.

For more information about the Faculty of Law's LLM program, click here.