With the arctic ice shelf becoming reduced in size due to Ice Melt & Thawing, the top of the Earth is no longer being viewed by nations as an ice shelf, but as open ocean for natural resource exploration.
This has precipitated a race for dominion over the Arctic Circle region, which (according to the USGS and other scientific research) contains a vast quantity of Natural Gas and Oil.
As the price of these two natural resources continues spiraling, the race to establish arctic territorial rights has become a controversial subject amongst nations with borders contiguous to the Arctic Ocean.
Who Owns the Arctic Circle?
Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, and the U.S. have defined areas over which they have exclusive rights to resources of the continental shelf more than 200 nautical miles from their coastal baselines – yet some are disputed and others agreed upon as Arctic territorial boundaries. Although disagreements exist over maritime jurisdiction in the Arctic region – and a potential for more – thus far all of the Arctic states have followed the rules and procedures for establishing seabed jurisdiction set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Russia and Norway have made submissions to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf, but Canada, Denmark and the USA are also likely to define their continental shelf limits over the next few years.
The Arctic Circle is said to contain much of Earth’s undiscovered wealth including 25% of the world’s oil and gas – equating to more than the Far East’s reserve of oil. Geologists predict that it also contains an unknown vast amount of minerals such as diamonds, gold, silver etc. within 460,000 square miles of sea bed – all of it owned or disputed.
The Barents Sea may become an area of conflict between Russia and the West. According to a 2008 USGS report this area has most of the presumed natural gas. Canada, Denmark, and the U.S. territories have most of the presumed oil. The USGS findings show projected reserves of oil & gas, plus prospective mineral deposits.