Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drilling the High Seas Portends What?

President Bush's just issued plea to the Senate to approve the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea paves the way for oil drilling in America's exclusive economic zone (within 200 nautical miles) and international waters.

An Admiral and a University of Virginia Law Professor say the United States already complies with all other aspects of the Law of the Sea Treaty, the only outstanding issue is mineral rights. The treaty the President endorses ensures private companies will participate in mining international waters.

Unfortunately for George Bush, a Congressional report just cited British Petroleum, one of those private companies for failure to maintain its oil pipelines in the pursuit of greater profits. How did this company behave according to its internal documents?

Severe company budget cuts at a time when BP PLC was making huge profits put pressure on managers to ignore corrosion protection at the oil company's North Slope pipelines that sprung leaks last year.

What might get ignored in deep water drilling or maintenance to boost private company profits? The other change from prior proposals is the United States has veto power over the International Seabed Authority's spending. This ensures America can block funds generated from international minerals to what it considers rogue goverments.

No wonder he wants the Senate to act as quickly as possible. The question is what happens when a rogue government's zone overlaps with America's 200 mile exclusive economic zone? Recent reports suggested oil offshore of Cuba, our southern Communist neighbor. Might enforcement of America's right to oil be step #2 after approval of the treaty? Time will tell...

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