We just don’t know when to stop. It looks like we are going to chase every drop of oil under every remote sea-bed, no matter the consequences.
A fevered scramble for control of the world’s seabed is going on – mostly in secret – at a little known office of the United Nations in New York.
Officials are said to be bemused by the antics of Britain and France as they stake out legal claims to oil and mineral wealth as far as 350 nautical miles around each of their scattered islands across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Meanwhile Australia and New Zealand are said to be “carving up the Antarctic seas.”
The latest bombshell to land on the desks of UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is Britain’s claim to extend UK territorial waters around Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha. A similar request has already been made for eastward expansion from the Falklands and South Georgia.
The French “Outre-Mer” is a bigger network – from the Isles Crozet to Saint-Paul and Kerguelen in the southern seas, to Clipperton off western Mexico. They too have been busy at the UN, requesting an extension of their zone off French Guiana and New Caledonia.
The Law of the Sea system is deeply unfair. China gets virtually nothing. Poor landlocked countries get absolutely nothing. Yet the old powers – after enjoying the fruit of imperial rule for four centuries – enjoy a second bite of the cherry. “The sea goes to the most powerful states that were able to colonise the remote parts of world. That’s the way the law is,” said Martin Pratt, head of the international boundaries unit at Durham University.
With due respect, I think you get the Law of the Sea wrong. First, these additional claims are made on the basis of geological formations, the extensions of continental shelves. Second, in an unprecedented way, developing countries can be compensated for economic damage they suffer as a result of seabed mining. Third, these claims do not represent actual drilling or mining claims; they’re merely an extension of national jurisdictions. U.S. environmental groups and oil companies alike support U.S. ratification because they’d rather decide to drill or not to drill under the predictable system of U.S. law. Just because the claims are made doesn’t mean drilling will take place.
First, these additional claims are made on the basis of geological formations, the extensions of continental shelves.
Duh! That’s a tautology. That corresponds to where the oil is!
Second, in an unprecedented way, developing countries can be compensated for economic damage they suffer as a result of seabed mining.
Why not avoid the damage in the first place?
Third, these claims do not represent actual drilling or mining claims; they’re merely an extension of national jurisdictions.
C’mon. This is to say ownership and control of the resources.
U.S. environmental groups and oil companies alike support U.S. ratification because they’d rather decide to drill or not to drill under the predictable system of U.S. law.
Could you please enumerate the ‘environmental groups’ that support this grab? No doubt the oil companies support this. They can use the US Navy as their ‘security force’… as usual.
Just because the claims are made doesn’t mean drilling will take place.
I suppose Big Oil might keep any oil that’s there off the market until it suits theri interests. They did that in Iraq nearly one hundred years ago.
The distribution of resources may seem unfair, but that is the result of geology, not law. The LOS Convention has important provisions to address the rights of land locked and geographically disadvantaged states.
The LOS Convention has extensive provisions that benefit land locked and geographically disadvantaged states in the exclusive economic zone, including access to maritime trade routes and the right to exploit the excess allowable catch of living resources of neighboring states.
Also, oil and gas exploitation on the shelf beyond 200 n.m is subject to a royalty that will be collected and distributed to parties to the LOS Convention with emphasis on developing countries.
Finally, mineral exploitation the deep seabed beyond the extended shelf and EEZ will pay royalties into the same pot as the exploitation of the extended shelf and will likewise benefit developing state members of the Convention.
2) Seabed Development & Environmental organizations
Mr. Lee, why would most countries want to avoid exploitation of deep seabed minerals? Only a couple developing states will have ill effects due to competition (mainly Congo and Zambia) and there are provisions for economic adjustment assistance. The rest of the developing world stands to benefit. Already China and India have active exploration and development programs underway, and both tonga and Nauru have subsidiaries of Nautilus Minerals preparing to develop deep seabed minerals under their flags, and paying taxes to their treasuries.
The environmental groups that support the LOS Convention include: the Ocean Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, Humane Society International, Defenders of Wildlife, Oceana, International Seakeepers Society, National Environmental Trust, Wilderness Conservation Society, Center for International Environmental Law, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Both the Humane Society and the Sierra Club were active members of the US delegation in negotiating the LOS Convention.
Industry and environmental groups have been presenting their support in teams because they both feel it is better to work out the issues between themselves than to leave issues unaddressed and in the hands of others.
‘ The distribution of resources may seem unfair, but that is the result of geology, not law. ‘
Please look at , the map of the land grab, and note that while the geological distribution of natural resources is a natural fact, the land grab is based upon a two century-old prior grab which was in turn, like the invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on seapower and gunpowder and bears no relationship to anything natural other than greed.
‘ Mr. Lee, why would most countries want to avoid exploitation of deep seabed minerals? ‘
Of course it is not the exploitation of deep seabed minerals, or continental shelf gas and petroleum, that is the salient feature of the article but by whom.
You seem to have the same tone deafness for imperialism that Hillary Clinton has for assassination. Neither one is a “fact of life” that we have to live with.
Who are the sources of funding for Oceanlaw.org and The Center for Leadership in Global Diplomacy?
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