Oil and gas industry strongly supports U.S. accession to UNCLOS to regain the leadership role in maritime affairs it has lost
From an energy perspective, potential future pressures are building in terms of both marine boundary and continental shelf delineations and in marine transportation. The LOS Convention offers the U.S. the chance to exercise needed leadership in addressing these pressures and protecting the many vital U.S. ocean interests. Notwithstanding the United States’ view of customary international law, the U.S. petroleum industry is concerned that failure by the United States to become a party to the Convention could adversely affect U.S. companies’ operations offshore other countries. In November 1998, the U.S. lost its provisional right of participation in the International Seabed Authority by not being a party to the Convention. At present there is no U.S. participation, even as an observer, in the Continental Shelf Commission— the body that decides claims of OCS areas beyond 200 miles— during its important developmental phase. The U.S. lost an opportunity to elect a U.S. commissioner in 2002, and we will not have another opportunity to elect a Commissioner until 2007.
The United States should also be in a position to exercise leadership and influence on how the International Seabed Authority will implement its role in being the conduit for revenue sharing from broad margin States such as the U.S., yet the U.S. cannot secure membership on key subsidiary bodies of the Seabed Authority until it accedes to the Convention. Clearly United States views would undoubtedly carry much greater weight as a party to the Convention than they do as an outsider. With 145 countries and the European Union having ratified the Convention, the Convention will be implemented with or without our participation and will be sure to affect our interests.
It is for these reasons that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports Senate ratification of the Convention at the earliest date possible.
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.