Brazil’s Navy and Petrobras technical experts, scientists, and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Relations are in New York (US) for talks with representatives of the United Nations (UN) on a project to extend the limits of Brazil’s continental platform.
The study, denominated the Survey of the Brazilian Continental Platform (Leplac), determines the parts of the ocean – measured in relation to the coast – where Brazil can claim exclusive rights to explore and exploit natural resources on and below the seabed.
The gain in territory would guarantee Brazil the right, for example, to exploit the petroleum discovered in the region. If multinational corporations carried out this activity, they would be obliged to pay royalties to Brazil.
“Certain pre-conditions were established for us to discover, through soundings, how far the continental platform extends. The study enables us to solicit the UN for an extension of the continental platform in which we would hold exclusive rights over the exploitation of the region’s mineral wealth,” affirmed Admiral José Eduardo Borges.
According to the Admiral, the additional area could amount to 911 thousand square kilometers, the size of the states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul, combined.
The ocean region contains over 150 minerals important for technological development. Borges explains, however, that the country still does not possess the technology to make use of these riches.
“We have to establish possession and exploration rights and wait for technology to provide us the possibility of exploitation. It is a complex process, since it is necessary to discover the wealth, delimit its location, and defend the territory,” he explained.
Brazil is the first signatory country of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to present such a proposal. According to Borges, all indications are that the UN will give the Brazilian representatives a green light.
“The initial reports are that the UN members are discovering affirmative technical advances present in the survey. They found that we did exactly what was determined. We are hopeful that their response will be favorable to our request,” he emphasized.
The United Nations should inform on September 24 whether it will accept Brazil’s petition or postpone the decision until the next plenary meeting of the UN Platform Survey Commission, slated to take place at the beginning of 2005.
Reporter: Daniel Dutra
Translator: David Silberstein