Industry News

Russia Submits Arctic Ocean Claims to UN

On 4 August 2015 Russia submitted claims to the United Nation for control of staggering 1.2 million square km of Arctic seabed, stretching as far north as the as the North Pole.

According to the Barents Observer, the area is estimated to hold 258 billion tons of fuel equivalent, representing 60% of Russia’s total hydrocarbon resources. The claim also includes fertile fishing territory.

The area Russia claimed includes the Mendeleev and Lomonosov Ridges, two major structures beneath the Arctic Ocean. The claim is based on Russia’s assertion that new research shows the ridges are geological extensions of the country’s continental shelf, its Foreign Ministry said in a Russian-language statement yesterday.

“To base its claim, Russia in this region used a broad range of scientific data collected over many years of Arctic exploration,” the statement said. “Submitting the claim to the commission is an important step in formulating Russia’s right to the Arctic Shelf in accordance with the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Russia originally petitioned the UN for the same territory in 2002, but was rebuffed, and told it hadn’t furnished enough scientific data to support its claim. Denmark in 2014 submitted a bid to the UN for 895,000 square km of Arctic seabed, claiming the Lomonosov ridge was an extension of Greenland’s continental shelf, the Telegraph reported.

Denmark’s claim includes the North Pole itself, putting its bid in conflict with Russia’s, the Barents Observer reported. Other Arctic boundary nations are jockeying for position as well: The United States, Norway, and Canada have all attempted to assert their jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic Ocean.

Russia’s new claim will now have to be adjudicated under the terms of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which delimits continental shelf claims. It allows countries to lay claim to exclusive economic rights on territories up to 320 km from their coastline or as far as their land territory is determined to naturally extend from shore to beneath the sea. Most experts believe the process to define continental shelf borders via the UN process will take years to finalize.

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