Canada, The Law of the Sea Treaty and International Payments: Where Will The Money Come From?

  • Wylie Spicer McInnes Cooper


Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, having ratified it in 2003. This Convention requires parties to it to make payments in respect of oil production on their continental shelves beyond 200 miles, to an international organization which is then tasked with distributing such payments to selected States parties to the Convention, taking into account the interests of the least-developed countries.* Canada has a number of offshore licenses in the area of the continental shelf to which these payments will apply. The amount of the payments is based on the total production at the site. After 12 years of production, the Convention stipulates that the amount of the payment is seven percent of production, and remains at that percentage for the rest of the producing life at the site. It is anticipated that Canada may be the first state to be required to make these payments. The annual cost to Canada of this obligation will be in the millions of dollars. At present Canada has no framework in place to source these funds. There is a well-developed royalty regime in the offshore, but it does not contemplate this substantial requirement. This paper discusses how this requirement developed in international law, the role of Canada in its development, and how it has come to be that there is no contemplation of this requirement in the current framework of Canadian law. The paper also discusses potential solutions.

Research Papers