The Trump administration on Wednesday rolled out rules aimed at expanding the exclusive zone for oil and natural gas drilling in U.K. waters, while also cracking down on foreign governments seeking to extend drilling rights for their own gas fields.
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea has been a key pillar of the international maritime community for decades.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been pushing for an expanded version of the Convention, which the U.k. had hoped would expand the scope of the U and B blocks of the exclusive financial zone (EFSZ).
“The U.s. is committed to securing the rights of all our offshore oil and oil and mining assets and is fully committed to working with other states to create an EFSZ that ensures that this vital resource is protected, and that all U.ks. companies can develop the resources they have to ensure that this important global asset is secured,” Sturgeon said in a statement Wednesday.
She noted that “the EFSYZ, and all other aspects of the EFSN, have been an essential instrument in promoting international co-operation, trade and development.”
The U, the UBS Group, ExxonMobil, and Statoil all made the decision to seek EFS zones as part of their exploration and production contracts.
U.SK has agreed to apply for an EDSZ, which could be awarded to any country.
The new regulations also seek to expand on a proposal by the UTSG, which is part of a group of countries that include Canada, Norway, and Mexico.
The expanded EFS zone would allow U.sk and UBS to extend leases in the UFS zone, allowing them to explore offshore blocks without any additional permits.
UBS is also proposing to allow it to develop additional offshore blocks in the exclusive EFS, and the Uks could seek EDS zones on other blocks, too.
The proposed expansion would also extend the EDS to include blocks that are part of the existing UFS.
The proposal to extend the existing EFS to the exclusive UFS would not require the approval of any country or agency.
The EFS is an international law agreement that protects oil and minerals in offshore waters.
Under the UESZ, all UBS exploration activities are restricted to areas of approximately 150 meters deep, excluding a maximum of 40 meters.
A maximum depth of 300 meters is also set for offshore exploration, which means any activity that would be required to reach depths exceeding the 300-meter threshold would be banned.
The expansion of the zone to include the EAST will also include a new block, the E-SHORE, that extends to areas greater than 100 meters.
The current E-shore extends from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and is the largest block of the new E-ESZ.
The block is located in the waters off the coast of Scotland, and includes three offshore oil wells that have been under development for years.
Ubs will be able to drill in the ESHORE from a depth of 30 meters to 40 meters, with no restrictions.
The company hopes to start drilling in the first stage of exploration on the block in 2018.
It is expected to start with exploratory drilling and development on the EASTER block, which extends to depths of 150 meters and will have a maximum depth limit of 30.
Statoil and ExxonMobil are also proposing a number of new exploration and development blocks.
The companies are planning to drill on a number, including a block that extends up to 200 meters.
They are also planning to explore a further block that reaches 300 meters, extending a block with a maximum diameter of 200 meters, and also a block about 200 meters deep that extends from Scotland to the Gulf of Mexico.
They have also planned to explore the EESTER block, and a block near the North Pole.
The exploration and discovery of offshore oil in the new block is expected, though the details are still being negotiated.
Sturgeon told reporters on Wednesday that the expanded E-FSZ is a “significant step forward” for the country and for Uks.
“It will make it easier for our companies to do business, and more importantly, it will allow us to continue our investment in our country,” she said.
The rules are expected to be published in the coming weeks, though details about how the EBS will be structured and the criteria for which countries will be allowed to apply have yet to be finalized.