Volume: Volume 21 - 2017
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Nwapi, Chilenye
This article examines the governance regime for oil sands development in the Canadian province of Alberta with a view to highlighting what lessons Sub-Saharan African countries with oil sands deposits may draw from it for the sustainable development of their oil sands. Although investments in oil sands projects have diminished since the 2014 oil price drop, prices are slowly rising and technological advances may lower production costs, which may renew interest in investment. This would mean much for Sub-Saharan Africa where even relatively minor profits could have significant positive economic impacts. However, the unconventional nature of oil sands development comes with enormous sustainable development challenges, which are likely to be very significant for Sub-Saharan Africa, given that it is still struggling to grapple with the challenges posed by conventional oil development despite several decades of experience. Sub-Saharan Africa must strive to put its governance houses in order before embarking on actual exploitation of its oil sands. Given its decades of experience in oil sands development, Alberta provides an excellent governance case study for Sub-Saharan Africa to consider for relevant lessons, and this article discusses key features of the Alberta governance regime that can be taken as lessons for Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the Alberta governance regime cannot be easily transplanted to Sub-Saharan Africa given the contextual differences between both jurisdictions, legal transplant theory informs us that it is possible for a successful transplant to occur despite any contextual differences. The critical factor is the willingness of the transplanting jurisdiction to identify what would be relevant to it and to adapt the transplanted rule to its own local conditions.
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