Rejection of UNCLOS is crippling U.S. seabed mining and oil and gas industry efforts to develop seabed
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With respect to our oil and gas and deep seabed mining industries, however, there are especially compelling reasons why the United States needs to promptly adhere to the Convention. Our oil and gas industry is simply unlikely to move forward in development of the continental margin of the United States in areas beyond 200 nautical miles until United States adherence solidifies the legal regime for them in such areas. And our deep seabed mining industry is now moribund, and will remain so, absent United States adherence to the Convention. The United States led the world toward development of the technology for the recovery of deep seabed minerals. Our industry collectively expended more than $200 million to identify and obtain international recognition for five prime mine sites. At present three of those sites lie abandoned and the other two are on hold with zero chance of activity absent United States adherence. The Congress should clearly understand that accepting the arguments of the critics and opposing moving forward with the Convention is to permanently put the innovative United States deep seabed mining industry out of business, and to accept a reality that only the firms of other nations will be able to mine the deep seabed.
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.
The development of deep seabed claims is incredibly expensive. Companies in the U.S. are reluctant to invest heavily in deep seabed mining because of the risk that their activities would not withstand a legal challenge since the U.S. is not a party to the Convention. Conversely, foreign companies, because their governments have joined the Convention, have access to the international bodies that grant the legal claims to operate in the deep seabed area. The U.S. cannot represent the interests of its companies in those bodies.