In the beginning--around 1962--there was nothing. No governments intervened in the petroleum activities in the North Sea; indeed, in the open sea there were no petroleum activities, nor even governments. In three years all had changed. Private companies were exploring for oil and gas off the coasts of Great Britain and Norway, and the governments of these two countries had begun to regulate these activities on portions of the continental shelf they called their own. This chapter tells the story of how each country established a degree of control over the petroleum activities in the North Sea and the exercise of that control in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The petroleum revolutions of the United Kingdom and Norway have common roots in developments that unexpectedly focused attention on the North Sea as a possible petroleum province. First, changes in international law opened the legal doors to exploration for natural resources beneath the seabed, although the North Sea was hardly the center of attention. President Truman, on 28 September 1945, issued the Truman Proclamation that unilaterally extended U.S. sovereignty to the natural resources of the continental shelf. This action met no resistance from other states but did help prompt a reexamination of the laws of the sea, a process that culminated in 1958 in the first Conference on the Law of the Sea. The conference considered issues regarding jurisdiction over the seabed adjacent to the continent and adopted the Convention on the Continental Shelf (the Geneva Convention), signed by forty-six nations on 29 April