Important UN post for NPD geologist

Source: press release, 25 March 2021

Harald Brekke has extensive experience with international work under the direction of the UN
Harald Brekke has extensive experience with international work under the direction of the UN (photo: NPD)

Senior geologist in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Harald Brekke, has been selected to chair the board of the Legal and Technical Commission under the International Seabed Authority, ISA.

ISA was established under the UN Convention on Law of the Sea to manage the resources in the international seabed areas on behalf of humankind. ISA has 167 member countries, including Norway.

The ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), currently led by Harald Brekke, is the ISA’s expert body for awarding and following up exploration and production licences for seabed minerals in international deep-water areas.

LTC is currently working on issues such as developing standards and guidelines as part of the regulations for recovering seabed minerals in international areas. Harald Brekke has been elected for 1 year.

“The selection of Harald Brekke to lead the commission that manages seabed minerals in international waters is also a recognition of the work he has previously carried out under the direction of the UN. We are extremely proud of his efforts,” says Director General Ingrid Sølvberg.

Brekke has extensive experience with international work under the direction of the UN. For many years, he was a member of the UN Commission that works to set sovereignty limits for nations in the sea – outside 200 nautical miles.

He has been one of Norway’s foremost advisers for many years in the work to set Norway’s boundary in excess of 200 nautical miles. He deserves much of the credit for the outer limit of the continental shelf outside Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic, which was clarified with the Continental Shelf Commission in New York in 2019. He has also contributed to the work of setting the outer boundaries of several other countries, including countries in West Africa.

Harald Brekke looks forward to taking up his work as head of the LTC. “This is a demanding assignment – many nations must reach agreement on regulations, standards and procedures for how recovery of minerals in the deep sea shall take place in a manner that is technically, financially and environmentally prudent,” says Brekke.

The Commission’s work takes place in two annual sessions with delegated tasks between sessions. Due to COVID-19, these sessions have been carried out via the internet over the past year, despite very different times of day for the members around the world.

The current session runs from 22 March to 1 July. During this period, particular emphasis is being placed on prioritising development of the necessary standards and guidelines for the initial phase of production activities.