Sea law hits rough waters in US Senate

By OGJ editors

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 25 --US Senate approval of the 21-year-old Law of the Sea Convention is now far less certain than trade groups anticipated a few months ago.

Treaty opponents got the attention of Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). He held an oversight hearing Wednesday with speakers who urged lawmakers to delay ratifying the United Nations document. Some conservatives are worried US participation could compromise the country's authority over its own shipping lanes.

"This committee is conducting this oversight hearing . . . because we have an obligation to ensure that this convention is consistent with protecting human health, the environment, and does not adversely affect the sovereignty of the United States," Inhofe said. "It is time to slow down and take a critical evaluation of this convention that deals with the Outer Continental Shelf which is in the jurisdiction of this committee."

Until the hearing, treaty proponents anticipated the proposal would readily pass the full Senate. The White House, industry, and their supporters in Congress all have endorsed the measure, saying it will protect US interests by helping guarantee access to the continental shelf beyond 200 miles and protecting navigational freedom.

Reflecting that consensus, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month voted unanimously to send the treaty to the Senate floor for its consideration; it could be brought up for a full Senate vote at anytime.

But some conservative groups are cautioning lawmakers to slow down the process. One worry Inhofe cited is how the treaty addresses seabed-mining rights.

"When a coastal state exploits non-living resources, such as oil, from its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, the convention requires the coastal state to make annual payments starting in the sixth year of production to the International Seabed Authority," Inhofe said in his written statement. "This authority is also granted immunity and accountability from legal process, from search and any form of seizure wherever located and held, and is also exempted from restrictions, regulations, controls and moratoria of any nature. We need to critically examine these concerns to ensure this authority cannot conduct itself in a manner outside the recommendations of this convention," he said.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alas.), who has closely followed the legislative gyrations of the treaty for over 3 decades, spoke before Inhofe's committee and told the chairman he is confident that the UN would be able to clarify and address concerns by treaty opponents.

"I have not raised those concerns, but I do believe we should get the clarification so that the Senate . . . should give its full consent to this convention that we have all lived with over these past almost 30 years," Stevens said.

Global competitiveness
Meanwhile, industry representatives before Inhofe's committee and in letters to Senate Majority Leader Tom Frist (R-Tenn.) urged the Senate not to delay a vote. They argued the treaty is needed now for them to maintain global competitiveness and to ensure the US can have a leadership role in international maritime policy.

"Since the convention's deep seabed mining provisions were amended in July 1994, the convention has enjoyed broad support from the nation's offshore oil and natural gas industry. Utilizing new technology, energy production activities are moving into ultra-deep waters at the edge of the US Exclusive Economic Zone, creating a pressing need for certainty in the delineation of the outer continental shelf boundary," according to a letter sent by industry officials associated with the National Ocean Industries Association.

"Through the convention, objective criteria for delineating the continental shelf have been established. And with the presence of the Continental Shelf Commission, the treaty offers a non-adversarial process for resolving potential disputes and conflicts over the precise limits of the shelf where the margin extends beyond 200 miles," it said.

Related Articles

MEO, Eni to exchange sections of Timor Sea permit

02/10/2015 MEO Australia Ltd., Melbourne, and Eni SPA—MEO’s joint-venture partner in the NT/P68 permit in the Timor Sea—have decided to split the permit betwe...

CNOOC signs two South China Sea PSCs with SK Innovation

02/10/2015 China National Offshore Oil Corp. Ltd. signed two production-sharing contracts with SK Innovation Co. Ltd., Seoul, for two blocks in the Pearl Rive...

Recent audit shows Trinidad and Tobago with 500 million bbl of 3P reserves

02/10/2015 An audit of Trinidad and Tobago’s oil and condensate reserves shows that the Caribbean twin-island nation has 508.4 million bbl of proved, probable...

Association presidents want more access in next 5-year OCS plan

02/09/2015 The presidents of three major US oil and gas trade associations urged the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to keep more of the US Outer Contine...

Statoil well appraises discovery near Oseberg in North Sea

02/09/2015 The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reported results from an appraisal well drilled in the North Sea by Statoil ASA, operator of production license...

After Keystone nod, Congress should okay ANWR leasing

02/09/2015 Now that it has passed legislation supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, Congress should approve oil and gas leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife...

White House proposes making ANWR coastal plain wilderness

02/09/2015 The Obama administration said it will propose managing more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including its coastal plain, as wilderness.

BOEM schedules public meetings about draft proposed 5-year OCS plan

02/06/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings in Washington on Feb. 9 to receive public comments on potential ...

DOI's 2017-22 draft proposed OCS program includes Mid-Atlantic sale

02/06/2015 The US Department of the Interior released a draft proposed 2017-22 Outer Continental Shelf management program that included 14 potential oil and g...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected