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.