Oil and gas industry unwilling to rely solely on rights outlined in 1958 convention
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Critics suggest accession to UNCLOS is not required in order for the United States to claim an ECS, since the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention and the 1945 Truman Proclamation already support a unilateral U.S. claim. Although that may be true, the metric for determining the outer extent of the ECS is more generous in UNCLOS than in the 1958 Convention or the Truman Proclamation, both of which rely on an “exploitability criterion” to identify the outer limit of the ECS.30 More importantly, the U.S. oil and gas industry believes that unilaterally claiming an ECS outside UNCLOS may be challenged by other nations in courts throughout the world, and has therefore repeatedly argued that legal certainty/security of tenure to explore and exploit the resources of the ECS can be obtained only through UNCLOS.31 The bottom line is that U.S. industry will not invest in offshore oil and gas production in the ECS unless the United States is a party to UNCLOS.32
Offshore operations are capital-intensive, requiring significant financing and insurance. Oil and natural gas companies do not want to undertake these massive expenditures if their lease sites may be subject to territorial dispute. They operate transnationally, and need to know that the title to the petroleum resources will be respected worldwide and not just in the United States.