Entrepreneurs likely to be deterred from investing in technology and research necessary for deep seabed mining by excessive royalties requirements
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Nevertheless, operations might eventually become economically feasible as technologies evolve and market conditions change. Seabed mining is in some senses a distant cousin of the undersea oil exploration that is already occurring in shallower ocean waters. But such developments are unlikely to go on with the Law of the Seat Treaty in its current form, and it may even threaten innovations to harvest resources such as oil from deeper ocean sources. As noted previously, the LOST requires sharing the revenues of oil drawn from the Outer Continental Shelf from 200 or more nautical miles beyond U.S. shores. Seven percent of revenues is a significant levy, heavy enough to discourage more costly or risky exploration and production. Today, it is hard to imagine any entrepreneur investing capital sufficient to create a viable deep seabed mining operation. The underwater environment is forbidding, in ways potentially as challenging as space. The great depths, incredible pressure, and uneven seabed make the creation of a workable, let alone an economical, mining operation extremely difficult. But absent intrusive regulation, entrepreneurs have accomplished the seemingly impossible before.
Although the 1994 treaty modifications have toned down some of the most direct mandatory technology transfer requirements, the treaty still places at risk some very sensitive, and militarily useful, technology which may readily be misused by the navies of ocean mining states.