Oscarline Onwuemenyi 11 November 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the continuation of efforts by the National Boundary Commission to significantly expand the nation’s maritime boundaries may open the country up to new discoveries of large quantities of gas and other hydrocarbons, officials have said.
Buhari, last week, gave officials of the National Boundary Commission the green light expand the nation’s maritime borders, in line with international regulations, a move which, if successful, could have a major impact on the economy of the nation.
According to a statement by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President gave the approval after he was briefed by the Commission’s Director-General, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad, on the preparations for a submission by Nigeria to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
According to Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the continental shelf of a coastal state comprises the seabed and the sub-soil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breath of the territorial sea is measured, where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance.
A sovereign coastal state like Nigeria can extend its maritime territory beyond 200 nautical miles, up to a maximum of 350 nautical miles, if it can prove scientifically that the natural prolongation of its land territory under the sea extends beyond 200 nautical miles.
The objective of the submission being prepared by the National Boundary Commission is to claim for the country a potentially rich maritime territory of up to 104,000 square miles without any war or litigation.
There is a strong likelihood of the presence of large deposits of hydrocarbons, gas and other mineral deposits in the extended maritime territory.