Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 highlighted deficiencies in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System's (TAPS) marine operation on both regulatory and operational levels. The United States Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to promote the prevention of oil spills and to improve our ability to mitigate the effects of spills that occur. An oil terminal roughly analogous to the TAPS terminal at Valdez, Alaska, exists at Sullom Voe in the Shetland Islands, west of Norway and to the north of Scotland in the North Sea. The Sullom Voe terminal has had an environmental advisory group guiding policy and operations since its inception. The advisory group's contribution to the operation of the Sullom Voe terminal has helped generated an exemplary environmental record for that facility. The Act states that similar oversight programs should eventually be established at other crude oil terminals throughout the United States. If the example of oversight and monitoring provided by Sullom Voe is to be effectively applied to the Alaskan situation, an in depth analysis of the regulatory and political differences between the national, regional and local regimes in existence at the Alyeska and Sullom Voe terminals is needed. This report will concentrate on providing the historical background that fostered the development of model relationships between the local community, government and industry at Sullom Voe, and the legal milieu in the United Kingdom that made those relationships possible. Alaskan attempts to impose pollution control measures on oil tankers will be outlined, as well as the history of environmental monitoring in Alaska.