Russia to follow Denmark with Arctic shelf claim in March 2015

Countries are jockeying for position in the Arctic as climate change opens the region up to increased resource extraction. (The Canadian Press)
Countries are jockeying for position in the Arctic as climate change opens the region up to increased resource extraction. (The Canadian Press)
Russia will file a claim with the UN by the end of March 2015 to expand the boundaries of its continental shelf in the Arctic. Conflicting territorial claims with Denmark will be solved via bilateral talks, the Russian Government says.

“We are drafting a document together with the Defense and Foreign Ministries and the Russian Academy of Sciences for submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,” Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy said on Tuesday, according to TASS.

The claim will expand Russian territory by 1.2 million square kilometers and significantly increase the area of the country’s hydrocarbon production.

According to Donskoy, 594 oil fields and 159 gas fields as well as two major nickel fields and more than 350 gold deposits had been discovered in Russia’s Arctic zone. Initial recoverable fuel resources are estimated to 258 billion tons of fuel equivalent, representing 60 percent of Russia’s total hydrocarbon resources.

Denmark’s claim

On Monday Denmark together with Greenland claimed ownership of around 900,000 square kilometers of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean by filing a submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

Denmark’s claim includes the North Pole, which will probably also be included in Russia’s claim. Russia claims to have gathered enough scientific evidence to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge, which goes straight across the North Pole, is a continuation of the Russian continental shelf.

Any conflicting territorial claims on the shelf will be resolved via bilateral talks, TASS wites, citing a statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

“Any possible adjacent areas of our countries’ continental shelf in the high-latitude Arctic region will be delimited via bilateral talks, in accordance with international law.”

The process of evaluating a claim to the shelf can take as much as 10-15 year. “So the issue will not be resolved today or tomorrow,” the ministry writes.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada, Russia and The North Pole, Cryopolitics

Denmark: Denmark claims North Pole, Barents Observer

Finland:  Reservists call for parallel armed force to defend Finland, Yle News

Iceland: A tale of two Arctics, Cryopolitics

Norway: Why Barents oil is becoming unprofitable, Barents Observer

Russia:  Territorial expansion on Arctic agenda for Russia, Barents Observer

Sweden: Russia playing “psychological warfare” with Sweden says researcher, Radio Sweden

United States:  Time to ramp up Arctic infrastructure in the U.S., Analysis by Sourabh Gupta and Ashok K. Roy

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