Seychelles granted new territorial waters, opening possibility of oil exploration
A claim for the Northern Plateau region was submitted to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A U.N. body’s ruling has extended Seychelles’ territorial waters by nearly 15,000 square kilometres, meaning the island nation has even wider waters in which it can explore for oil, Vice President Vincent Meriton said.
The new territory is 14,840 square kilometres, about 92 times the size of Mahe, the main island. It consists of seabed and subsoil that can be explored.
The chief executive of PetroSeychelles, Patrick Joseph, told reporters on Tuesday that now Seychelles has “an additional area where we can conduct research for resources under the sea, for example, oil exploration. We don’t know if there is but we have the opportunity now to do the research because the area is now ours.”
PetroSeychelles is the national oil company set up in 1984 to strengthen Seychelles' capabilities to deal with exploration and other activities related to the development of the petroleum potential of the island state.
Joseph said international companies can undertake the search. “Seychelles does not have to do it. This is our territory so we invite international oil exploration companies that have the vessels and everything needed to do it and we benefit by taxing them on any product they find.”
Vice President Meriton said that the government is using all the legal international platforms to see what Seychelles can get within the new area which will benefit the island nation.
“There is now the possibility to work towards getting more data with our international partners and then invite people who are interested to see what can potentially be exploited in the area, of course on a sustainable basis, to ensure that anything we find can be used for the economic and social development of our country,” added Meriton.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, received official confirmation of the extension on August 31 through its permanent mission to the United Nations in New York. The island nation made its request to claim the area which was in international waters in May 2009 after it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
A technical team made up of local and international partners negotiated for the extension.
Meriton said, “We acknowledge and salute the effort of all those involved in this project who used their expertise in marine-related science over and above their daily jobs to help our country gain additional territorial space within which we can search for more natural resources.”
Meanwhile, Seychelles is also in the process of claiming an area around the remote island of Aldabra and together with Mauritius is jointly managing the Mascarene Plateau -- a large shallow area ranging from 8 to 150 metres in depth in the Indian Ocean.