Russian Minister of Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy. Photo: Trude Pettersen

UN to consider Russia’s claim to shelf this summer

If the claim is fully accepted, Russia will get the right more than 1 million square kilometers of the Arctic seabed, including the North Pole.
April 28, 2016

The United Nations’ Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) will consider Russia’s claim on its upcoming session in July-August, says Minister of Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy.

“The chairman of the commission has officially informed the Russian delegation about the decision to present the claim on its 41 st session, which takes place from July 11 to August 26,” Donskoy said at a meeting in the ministry, RIA Novosti reports.

After years of comprehensive research, Russia in August 2015 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.

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.

“Our claim is not merely Russia’s reasoned pretensions to have its jurisdiction in the Arctic extended, it is the result of comprehensive scientific research of global significance,” Donskoy underlines.

 “… the claim determining 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 given in connection with the submission reads.

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.

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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. 

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