Freedom of the high seas established in the law of the sea, as a customary norm comprises freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines. This was confirmed by the Geneva Conventions of 1958 on the High Seas and the Continental Shelf. The law of the sea Convention of 1982 retained freedom of the laying of submarine pipelines in the exclusive economic zone but in parallel it has given a number of rights to the coastal State. Thus the coastal State has rights to set up conditions concerning all stages of pipelines construction and functioning. Through it may not impede the laying or maintenance of pipelines, nevertheless, the delineation of the course for the laying of such pipelines in the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf is subject to its consent. It also has the right to authorize and regulate drilling on the sea bed. An analysis of provisions concerning artificial islands, installations and structures as well as marine scientific research demonstrates various lacuna. Debates around the project of the Baltic pipeline confirm the necessity to take into account the specific situation of this semi-enclosed sea, interests of the coastal States and recommendations of the competent international organizations. One can also argue that in the case of pipelines laid on the bed of the high seas beyond the continental shelf the Authority should be consulted. Problems are also caused by the fact that pipelines are laid by multinational corporations.
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