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Cablegate: Nigeria to Extend Exclusive Economic Zone, No

VZCZCXRO8173
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #2131/01 3031508
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291508Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4306
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1461
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0454
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 0162
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002131

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W, INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS EPET EFIS EMIN PHSA PGOV PREL GH CM TP
EK, NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA TO EXTEND EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE, NO
INFRINGEMENT ON NEIGHBORS

REF: ABUJA 1184

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: According to October 10 press reports,
President Yar'Adua has ordered the National Boundary
Commission (NBC) to "ensure the extension of Nigeria's
continental shelf beyond the present 200 nautical mile
limit." The GON believes this move will not/not upset
relations with Nigeria's neighbors. NBC Assistant Director
Abdul-Aziz Bello confirmed to Poloff that the GON has done
the requisite seafloor studies and is indeed planning on
submitting a request to the United Nations Commission on the
Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) for recognition of
an extended Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary sometime
in 2009. Bello said the exact limits of the new request have
not yet been determined, but will not extend to the 350
nautical mile (nm) limit established by UNCLOS, and claimed
that this extension will not infringe on any other nation's
EEZ. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for East and
Central Africa Tony Eze told Poloff that any extension would
be in a southwesterly direction, away from Cameroon, and Head
of Corporate and Public Affairs for the Nigeria-Sao Tome
Joint Development Authority Sam Dimka said that the GON had
too much at stake in the Joint Development Zone to upset the
apple cart. It will likely be years before any decision is
handed down on the proposed expansion. An increase in its
EEZ would only further tax the Nigerian Navy, which is
already spread thin and incapable of protecting ships and oil
platforms in Nigeria's waters. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) October 10 press articles reported that President
Yar'Adua has ordered the NBC to expand Nigeria's maritime
economic boundaries, saying that "the successful conclusion
of this exercise will no doubt increase the frontiers of our
national sovereignty and boost our national resource base."
In an October 16 meeting with Poloff, NBC Assistant Director
Bello confirmed that Yar'Adua had given the order, but also
said that this had been in the works since at least 2002. He
said all the scientific studies had been completed in
conjunction with the Navy's Hydrographic Office, boasting
that "we've gone very far beyond other African nations" in
asserting national sovereignty and achieving scientific
goals. He believed the formal application for expansion
would be filed with the UN in early 2009, but did not know
how far beyond 200 nm Nigeria would seek. When asked if the
expansion would infringe on the EEZ of any neighboring
country, Bello sketched a rough map of Nigeria's coastline to
illustrate the kind of limits off the Niger Delta he was
describing, enlarging in a southwesterly direction. He said
the only maritime boundary issues Nigeria currently had with
any other nation is an eight nm stretch disputed by Ghana.
(Note: On October 17 and October 29, respectively, a
political officer and the Defense Attache from the Ghanaian
High Commission told Poloff they were not aware of said
dispute. End note.) Bello concluded the discussion by
expressing his confidence that "we'll definitely get
something beyond 200 nm."

3. (SBU) Tony Eze, the MFA's Director for East and Central
Africa, affirmed to Poloff on October 22 that any expansion
of the EEZ would not come at the cost of antagonizing
Cameroon, and that it would expand to the southwest, away
from Cameroon -- likely expanding just a portion of the
current maritime economic boundary, rather than the entire
length. Per the provisions of the 1913 Anglo-German Treaty
reaffirmed in the Greentree Agreement, Nigeria's maritime
boundaries with Cameroon are settled. He also said it would
not affect the Nigeria/Sao Tome Joint Development Zone
created in 2001 and renegotiated in 2003. When Poloff
pointed out the difficulty the Nigerian Navy would have in
trying to protect additional offshore oil and gas facilities
from militants, Eze conceded its near-impossibility and
mentioned the hope that the Gulf of Guinea Commission would
in the near future be harnessing support for the "Gulf of
Guinea Guards," an arrangement in which regional nations
would provide maritime security, presumably with support from
international partners.


ABUJA 00002131 002 OF 002


4. (SBU) On October 24, Eze's views were echoed to Poloff by
Sam Dimka, Head of Corporate and Public Affairs for the
Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Authority, who emphasized
Nigeria's contentment with its present maritime boundaries
with its neighbors, and highlighted the unlikelihood that
Nigeria would seek to renegotiate or jeopardize the Joint
Development Zone (JDZ) it shares with Sao Tome and Principe.
Recalling the years of talks that led to the establishment of
the 34,500 square km JDZ, which is both politically and
economically advantageous to Nigeria, he pointed out that
U.S. firms hold 75% of the zone's equities -- one more reason
for Nigeria not to trouble the waters. By his reckoning, the
expansion would run parallel to the JDZ, adding a
wedge-shaped area to the existing EEZ that would stop short
of invasion of the EEZs of Nigeria's neighbors to the west.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: One of the apparent results of having
finally settled the Bakassi issue is that Nigeria, feeling it
came out the loser on the matter, is pushing outward in other
directions. While Nigeria's neighbors might disagree with
its claims, the application process is expensive and
technically challenging, and will thus take some time. New
Zealand's recent successful claim was the result of more than
ten years' work and cost $44 million, and UNCLOS took more
than two years to adjudicate the claim. Along with Nigeria,
many other nations are expected to file claims before the May
13, 2009 deadline. Even assuming Nigeria's submission to the
Commission is adequate, it will likely be years before any
result is handed down. Furthermore, Nigeria's Navy is unable
to protect Nigeria's existing offshore oil and gas
facilities; increasing the EEZ by thousands of square
nautical miles will also increase the number of targets
available to militants (reftel). END COMMENT.

6. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate Lagos.
Sanders

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