Pakistan’s sea limits set to be extended
Thursday, 07 May, 2009 | 06:57 AM PST
ISLAMABAD, May 6: Pakistan’s continental shelf, or sea-water limits, will be extended from 200 to 350 nautical miles provided no nation objects within a week.
“No country has challenged our claim for an additional 150 nautical miles into the sea,” said the federal minister for Science and Technology, Azam Khan Swati, who had called a briefing on Wednesday evening to announce what he called an “historical conquest.”
After four years and surveys worth Rs500 million, the United Nations accepted Pakistan’s claim for extension of the continental shelf. Pakistan would have legal control over another 50, 000 square-kilometres into the Arabian Sea.
Pakistan’s mission to the United Nations in New York had filed a claim for extension in its continental shelf from 200 nautical miles to 350 nautical miles to United Nations Commission on the Limit of Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) on April 30.
The ministry of science and technology (MoST) was involved in the preparation of the claim for the last couple of years. The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), an autonomous organisation of this ministry, was entrusted with the task to prepare the claim in accordance with UN requirements. The case was prepared and submitted to the Pakistan mission in New York last month.
Under the UNCLOS, Pakistan already has an Exclusive Economic Zone extending up to 200 nautical miles.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was adopted in 1982 and came into force in Nov 1994. Pakistan ratified the convention in Feb 1997. The Convention entered into force for Pakistan on March 28, 1997.
Although the government submitted its claim just two weeks before deadline, Science Minister Azam Khan Swati was all smiles when the announced the news. “It’s a historical conquest. The benefits will be limitless,” he said.
“We gain a substantial area of more than 50, 000 sq/km with another 150 nautical miles into the sea,” said Azam Khan Swati.
Listing benefits, the minister claimed that the data acquired during the project would provide a reliable and firm database and foundation, essential for future marine research and exploration of living and non-living marine resources.
“It will also provide a good basis for out scientists/technicians to further promote and develop the marine geological and geophysical research and survey capabilities. The project will contribute directly to the petroleum and mineral sector in general and to the offshore maritime industry/market,” Azam Khan Swati said.
“Elsewhere in the world, deepwater fan and deltaic systems are of great interest to oil exploration companies. After the survey we conducted, it is safe to say that Pakistan’s waters are rich in coal deposits and there is plenty of oil and gas,” Azam Khan Swati said.
The minister said that as many as 29 countries have filed claim for extension and May 13, 2009 was last date for submission of claim.
India has not filed claim for extension of its continental shelf so far, he added.
He said it was a historical moment that owing to timely efforts by the ministry and other stakeholders, Pakistan would succeed to extend its continental shelf.
The minister said that Pakistan has 200 nautical miles an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which now would be 350 nautical miles.
He said that substantial area of more than 50,000 square kilometres has been gained after extension of the continental shelf.
Azam Swati said that this would contribute directly to the petroleum and mineral sector in general and offshore maritime industry in particular.
He said this would also provide a reliable and firm database and foundation for future marine research and exploration of living and non-living resources.
The minister said that by analogy, elsewhere in the world, deepwater fan and deltaic systems were of great interest to oil exploration companies.
Oil and gas developments in sediment-rich margins were clear indicators of potential for the Indus Fan, he said.
The UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 and came into force on Nov 16, 1994. Pakistan ratified the convention on Feb 26, 1997.
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/daw ... tended-759