UN okays extension of Nigeria’s continental shelf beyond 200M (200 nautical miles)


By Abiodun OBA


The United Nations (UN) has approved Nigeria’s submission, to extend its continental shelf beyond 200M (200 nautical miles).

Professor Larry Awosika, a marine scientist and member of the High-Powered Presidential Committee, HPPC, and Surveyor Aliyu Omar, Secretary of HPPC disclosed in a report submitted to President Bola Tinubu.

Receiving the report, the President commended the team of experts who worked hard over the years to advance the project.

The experts have been involved in the project since Nigeria’s initial submission to extend its continental shelf to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in 2009.

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, quoted the President as saying: “When the HPPC briefed former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022 on the status of the project, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, CLCS, was still considering Nigeria’s submission and having technical interactions with the HPPC.

“These interactions and consideration have now culminated in the approval for Nigeria to extend its continental shelf beyond 200M (200 nautical miles).

“As it stands now, the area approved for Nigeria is about 16,300 square kilometres, which is about five times the size of Lagos State,” Surveyor Omar told the president.’’

Ngelale added that the official notification of the decision was conveyed to Nigeria by the UN Nations Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf, CLCS, in August 2023, shortly after President Tinubu assumed office.

Omar outlined the available options for Nigeria following the approval: “The first option is to take the area gained and finalize the registration with the UN Secretary-General and close everything, meaning that we are satisfied with what we got. This will take at least one year.

“The second option is to take what we have right now, acquire more data, do a support write-up, and make a revised submission as recommended by CLCS for further consideration. This will take another four years. Either way (options), Nigeria will keep what has been approved.”

In his presentation, Professor Awosika explained that the approval came after years of meticulous scientific research on geophysics, geology, geography, and diplomatic efforts, which solidified Nigeria’s legal rights over a vast expanse of seabed and subsoil beyond its traditional territorial waters.

Awosika highlighted the economic potential of the newly acquired territory, which includes hydrocarbons, gas, solid minerals, and a wide variety of sedentary species.

He, however, cautioned against total disclosure of sensitive data acquired during surveys, noting that this will jeopardize confidentiality as Nigeria is expected to monetize the information to recover project expenses.

Responding, the president thanked the experts for their diligence, emphasizing the significance of the achievement for Nigeria’s economic and strategic interests.

© 2024, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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