The Russian continental shelf stretches beyond the North Pole, the Russian government asserts.
The country this week submitted its renewed claims for the Arctic shelf to the UN Continental Shelf Commission.
After years of comprehensive research, Russia on 3 August submitted its claims for additional territories in the Arctic. The claim includes both the Mendeleev and Lomonosov Ridges, two major structures beneath the Arctic Ocean.
“… the claim determinating the outer borders of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean is based on the scientific understanding that the central Arctic underwater ridges, among them the Lomonosov, Medeleev, Alfa and Chukotskoye Heights, as well as the in between basins of Podvodnikov and Chukotskaya, have a continental character”, an official statement, referred to by RIA Novosti, reads.
Up to UNCLOS
It will now be up to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to decide if Russia should be entitled to include the huge additional areas under its sovereignty. The Commission confirms that “the consideration of the partial revised submission made by the Russian Federation will be included in the provisional agenda of the next ordinary session”, the Commission website informs.
Russia in 2001 made a first official submission of its Arctic claims to the UN Commission. However, the Commission in 2002 responded that additional research is needed before a decision can be taken.
Other North Pole claims
Neighboring Norway was in 2009 the first country to get its Arctic territorial claims approved, while Denmark/Greenland submitted a claim in December 2014. That latter claim includes ownership of the North Pole and is consequently in conflict with the Russian claim.
If approved, the Russian claim will expand the country’s territory by 1.2 million square kilometers. Estimates indicate that the area include 594 oil fields and 159 gas fields as well as two major nickel fields and more than 350 gold deposits. Initial recoverable fuel resources are estimated to 258 billion tons of fuel equivalent, representing 60 percent of Russia’s total hydrocarbon resources.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada to collect more data for continental shelf claim, Eye on the Arctic
Denmark: Denmark claims North Pole, Barents Observer
Iceland: Revisualizing the Cryosphere, Blog by Mia Bennett
Russia: Application for Russia’s Arctic shelf claim out on tender, Barents Observer
Sweden: Swedish ships mapped at bottom of sea, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. to collect Arctic data for modern navigational charts, Alaska Dispatch News