An invisible line off the coasts of beaches is used to determine if parts of water are still considered in a countries territory. This line extendes 200 miles out from the coast of any country. This outlined area is called the Exclusive Economic Zone, or the EEZ. All marine resources are considered a countries right if it falls within the 200 miles. Sometimes these 200 miles can include the continental shelf as well. But if the continental shelf is beyond 200 miles, then the country has no right to it. The EEZ is considered to be ruled by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Many federal governments involving multiple different countries control and regulate the natural resources of the EEZ. In North America, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcements regulate offshore drilling and energies. Sometimes these companies will lease lands in order to gain royalties on materials produced.
Two types of offshore drilling exist. There is exploratory drilling (finding new oil or gas deposits) and development (preparing the discovery for production). Before exploratory drilling begins geographic surveys must be taken to identify specific deposits. The operator of these surveys will hire a drilling contractor. The oil company will choose the location and supervise the operation. The rigs (or where the workers live and work) are meant to be kept steady in choppy oceans. Drilling can take as short as 2 weeks or as long as 1 year. Drilling is done round the clock, 24 hours, 7 days a week.