Nigeria set to gain from new maritime territory

The newly approved 16,300 square kilometres of maritime territory has immense potential for the economy, experts have said.

They highlighted opportunities for oil and gas exploration, improved maritime security and job creation.

The United Nations granted Nigeria about 16,300 square kilometres of additional maritime territory, about five times the size of Lagos State.

The extension of Nigeria’s maritime boundaries aligns with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

The experts, in separate interviews with The Nation, welcomed the development.

A Geographer and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist, Adedamola Ogunsesan, said the expansion provides significant strategic advantages for national defence, particularly for the Navy.

He said: “The approval of an additional 16,000 square kilometres of maritime territory heralds a transformative era for Nigeria’s Blue Economy.”

Mr Adegboyega Oyetola is the Minister of the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, created by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Ogunsesan added: “It represents a gateway to numerous economic, strategic, and ecological opportunities.

“It enables the establishment of buffer zones along coastal areas, providing crucial space for anti-piracy operations and the prevention of oil theft.

“By extending naval operations into these newly acquired waters, Nigeria can more effectively safeguard its maritime assets and territorial integrity.”

Ogunsesan noted the potential for oil and gas exploration in the new territory.

“This expansion can significantly boost Nigeria’s hydrocarbon reserves and production capacity, leading to increased revenue streams, job opportunities and economic growth, especially in coastal communities,” he said.

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He also believes larger territorial waters will enhance port infrastructure and logistics, improving Nigeria’s competitiveness in global trade and serving as a diplomatic asset.

Ogunsesan said: “The marine ecosystems within the new territory provide invaluable research opportunities for the Nigerian Ocean and Marine Institute.

“Studying these habitats can advance understanding of marine ecology, inform sustainable fisheries management, and mitigate environmental impacts.

“This territorial expansion reinforces Nigeria’s regional dominance and bolsters its position in bilateral and multilateral agreements.

“By asserting control over a larger maritime domain, Nigeria can project influence and negotiate from a position of strength in international affairs.”

Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Ambosit Capital Managers, Dr. Wahab Balogun, urged the Federal Government to consider a revised submission strategy for the territory.

This, he said, will enable Nigeria to gather additional data and submit a more comprehensive application to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), potentially securing more significant long-term benefits.

He said: “By pursuing further expansion, Nigeria can secure a larger area rich in natural resources, which is crucial for future economic growth.

“A larger maritime territory enhances Nigeria’s geopolitical influence and strengthens its position in regional and international maritime affairs.”

He noted that a more extensive territory could prevent future territorial disputes and resource claims by other nations.

Balogun outlined a strategy for the Federal Government to implement this plan.

“While pursuing the revised submission, Nigeria can begin preliminary exploration and planning for the approved area to maintain momentum and stakeholder confidence.

“Additionally, efficiently managing the additional costs by leveraging international partnerships and funding opportunities aimed at maritime research and development is vital,” he advised.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, highlighted the deep offshore oil and gas potentials of the continental shelf but advised patience.

A continental shelf is the edge of a continent that lies under the ocean.

“We do not need to rush the process. Once concluded, Nigeria can take full advantage of the additional territory,” Lokpobiri stated.

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) Head of Public Affairs and Communication, Mrs. Olaide Shonola, expressed excitement about the continental shelf’s potential benefits for Nigeria’s maritime, solid minerals and hydrocarbon sectors.

Ismail Omipidan, spokesperson for the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, highlighted gains such as expanded fishing areas, seabed mining, biotechnology, and marine research.

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