Countries lay claim to Arctic in battle for oil and gas reserves

A A A

Nations laid out their claims to territory in the polar North yesterday and the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies under the Arctic Ocean.

Shrinking polar ice has opened up new opportunities, with five nations – Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US – claiming jurisdiction over parts of the polar region which could contain as much of one quarter of the world's undiscovered reserves of oil and gas.

Russia's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, will attend the Arctic Forum in Moscow today as the stakes in the battle for control of the Arctic become ever higher. Russia, Canada and Denmark have all said they will file claims to the UN over an undersea mountain range called the Lomonosov Ridge, an area which some Russian scientists say could hold 75 billion barrels of oil. They all say the ridge is an underwater extension of their continental shelves.

Russia first submitted a claim in 2001, which was rejected. But now the Russians say they have gathered more evidence to support their Arctic claim, including a set of samples taken from the seabed, collected by an expedition that journeyed to the Arctic this year.

Alexander Bedritsky, the Russian president's adviser on climate change, said Russia would file its claim to the UN within the next two or three years. He said he believed the Russians had a "strong chance" of their bid being approved. Canada and Denmark are also readying claims.

As the ice continues to melt, Russia is also interested in exploiting the Northern Sea Route, which could slash journey times and costs from Europe to Asia. Currently ships travelling on the route across the top of Russia have to be accompanied by nuclear-powered ice breakers. Mr Bedritsky told reporters yesterday: "We will protect our interests in the Arctic with all civilised instruments envisaged by international agreements."

Tensions over the Arctic peaked three years ago when a Russian expedition to the North Pole led by the celebrated explorer Artur Chilingarov travelled over two miles down to the seabed in titanium capsules and planted a Russian flag there, a clear sign of Russia's intent to make the Arctic its own. The mission drew an angry response from Canada.

The mood at the conference yesterday was conciliatory, with world leaders urging negotiations rather than conflict.

"The Cold War times, when the Arctic was a region of tension, have passed," said Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson in Moscow yesterday.

The conference follows a historic accord signed by Russia and Norway last week that solves a decades-old dispute over the Barents Sea. The two countries agreed to split the difference between their two claims, and divided the disputed area in half. If any natural resources are found straddling the newly delineated boundary, the two states will co-manage them.

An opinion piece by the foreign ministers of Russia and Norway was published yesterday in a Canadian newspaper, calling on Arctic countries to solve the problems through dialogue. "We firmly believe that the Arctic can be used to demonstrate just how much peace and collective interests can be served through the implementation of the international rule of law," wrote Jonas Gahr Store and Sergey Lavrov. "Moreover, we believe that the challenges in the Arctic should inspire momentum in international relations, based on co-operation rather than rivalry and confrontation."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map