Russia will address the UN on the expansion of its Arctic shelf next spring. If successful the move would see the country adding an area of 1.2 million sq. kilometers in the Arctic Ocean, holding 5 billion tons of standard fuel, to its territory. The Russians now say they possess all the necessary studies to put an application together and present it to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). For the UN to recognize Moscow’s ownership of those areas, it must be scientifically proven that they are a continuation of the continental crust with the same general geological structure.
The move would permit Russia to increase its potential hydrocarbon reserves by at least 5 billion tons of standard fuel, Sergey Donskoy, the country’s natural resources minister, said, adding that “those are just the most humble assessments, and I’m sure that the actual figure will be a lot larger.”
Over 60 large hydrocarbon fields have been discovered above the Arctic Circle, with 43 of them in the Russian sector. The total recoverable resources of Russia’s part of the Arctic are estimated at 106 billion tons of oil and 69.5 trillion cubic meters of gas. The discovery of the deposits sparked international competition over the region’s resources, in which all the Arctic states – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the US – are involved. Approximately 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 percent of its oil lie in the Arctic, with an estimated 84 percent of the Arctic’s 90 billion barrels of oil and 47.3 trillion cubic meters of gas remaining offshore.