Ecuador Needs $80 Million Ship to Secure Marine Soil and Subsoil Resources Up to 350 Miles

The only existing ship to do this type of work, called Orion, is now forty years old.

Gladys Rivadeneira
August 24, 2020 – 06h00

Quito – The Oceanographic and Antarctic Institute (Inocar), the Navy and the Ministry of Defense analyze how the country can prevent loss of the jurisdiction and the rights to explore and exploit the resources of the marine soil and subsoil, located in the 150 miles of the continental shelf, which extends beyond 200 miles from the Galapagos Islands.

Eight years after Ecuador joined the Convention of the Sea (Convemar), Foreign Minister Luis Gallegos and the heads of these military institutions agree that Ecuador may have more than two years to deliver the studies to the Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations in order to extend it, as long as the date to deliver the final studies is assured.

Thus, the preliminary term would end in 2022, but the end could be until 2026, according to the projections of these entities that indicate that the only existing ship capable of this type of work, called Orion, is already forty years old and needs to be replaced with a new one that would cost between $ 70 million and $ 80 million.

The Lieutenant Commander, Giorgio de la Torre, from Inocar, maintains that, at the moment, the new ship does not have financing, but if it is decided to buy, this decision should be made immediately, so that a definitive extension of the term of the 2022 to 2026, can be presented before the Committee.

In the webinar Convemar and the sovereignty of living resources in jurisdictional maritime spaces, De la Torre assures that the possibility of renting instead of buying a ship is not favorable for the interests of the country, since the rent for around 600 days It would represent about $ 47 million, more than 50% of the cost of a new vessel, which could have a useful life of 25 years and serve for marine research and also in Antarctica, during all this time.

On the subject, Chancellor Gallegos said that we must look for alternatives for the ship, such as renting or cooperating with other countries, “but we must be sovereign and as soon as the economy can recover (…) we have the possibility to buy the necessary elements for the Navy ”.

But, what is the importance of the resources that exist on the seabed? According to an information sheet from Inocar on the 2019 Sutpla continental shelf expansion project, there would be high-value mineral and hydrocarbon resources, such as ferromanganese, oil, gas, copper, nickel and others.

“Ecuador, by extending its sovereignty, will be able to have a greater amount of non-renewable natural resources, which will allow it to have a greater potential for the development of mining and oil industries,” the report states.

Currently, progress in platform expansion studies continue, in different percentages, in the three mountain ranges that extend from the Galapagos: Carnegie, Coco and Colón.

Carnegie’s, with an area of ​​107,000 km² and linking the islands with the mainland, presents a 76% progress in studies and 100% would be completed by the end of the year, according to Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrín.

Coco range, with an area of ​​130,000 km ² and which connects the Galapagos with the Coco mountain range in Costa Rica, has completed the bathymetric works and the two countries would make a joint presentation at the end of the year.

Bathymetric cruises are planned between 2021 and 2022 for the Colón and del Coco East, with an area of ​​29,300 km² and to the northeast of the Galapagos.

This issue is one of the points of the resolution approved by the plenary session of the National Assembly, on August 4, to condemn the unsustainable, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing carried out by the foreign fleet between the two ZZEs of Ecuador.

On the subject, Fernando Flores, president of the Commission for Sovereignty and International Relations, considers that the government of Lenín Moreno has been “inoperative” on this issue, because we have been part of the Convemar since 2012.And he adds that the oceanographic vessel carries out a sweep in the sea to obtain information and thus protect those resources.

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Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
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