Further to our earlier post pointing out the Russian expansion into the Arctic Circle , we now offer an update on the Canadian competition .
Canada raised the stakes in the battle to claim ownership of the Arctic by sending Stephen Harper, prime minister, on a three-day trek to the region, just days after the Russians planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole.
“Our government has an aggressive Arctic agenda,” Dimitri Soudas, Mr Harper’s spokesman, said on Wednesday.
“The Russians sent a submarine to drop a small flag at the bottom of the ocean. We’re sending our prime minister to reassert Canadian sovereignty,” said a senior government official, according to Canadian press.
The Northwest Passage, which is the main focus of the dispute, has become a sought-after territory thanks to global warming, which has begun to melt the ice in these waters, exposing a potentially vast haul of natural resources. Studies have estimated that the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. According to some estimates, the Arctic contains billions of tonnes of gas and oil deposits, which could become more accessible as the ice cap that cover them begins to melt. This is happening just as their exploitation becomes more economically viable because of high hydrocarbon prices.
The melting ice could also open up a route through the Arctic archipelago that could shave off as much as 6,500km on a journey between North American and Asia, instead of using the Panama Canal.
The US, Norway and Denmark are also competing alongside Russia and Canada to secure rights to the natural resources of the Arctic.
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