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1.2 million sq.km, 5 billion tons of fuel: Russia to apply for Artic shelf expansion

1.2 million sq.km, 5 billion tons of fuel: Russia to apply for Artic shelf expansion
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.

A field investigation to make such an appeal possible has been successfully completed in the area, Sergey Donskoy, the country’s natural resources minister, said.

The results of the new research will allow for updating Russia’s initial application, which the country filed to the United Nations in 2001.

Russia intends to add another 1.2 million square kilometers of territory in the Arctic ocean to its continental shelf.

The move would permit Russia to increase its potential hydrocarbon reserves by at least 5 billion tons of standard fuel, Donskoy said, adding that “those are just the most humble assessments, and I’m sure that the actual figure will be a lot larger.”

“For us, for the Ministry [of Natural Resources], this is a much anticipated day. We’ll submit an application on our shelf, on our Arctic borders to the UN in spring next year,” the minister said, as he greeted the researchers from the Akademik Fedorov on their return to St. Petersburg.

Panorama of the Franz Josef Land Archipelago. (Reuters/Vladimir Baranov)

He stressed that the Akademik Fedorov expedition “performed all that was required, even exceeding the initial plans."

“We now possess all the necessary studies to put an application together and present it to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). We have a full amount of scientific data and continue to work with the best geologists, who are part of the Commission," Donskoy said.

The expedition was launched on July 10, spanning an area of 350,000 square kilometers in the Arctic Ocean.

The scientists carried out comprehensive studies to establish the geological and geophysical basis for assessing the petroleum potential of the continental shelf beyond Russia’s exclusive economic zone.

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.

"I'm confident that it's our shelf. All the specialists are saying that we have a very good application. The acceptance of this application by the Commission is virtually an acceptance of our geological model by the specialists from all other Arctic interests,” Donskoy said.

Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy. (RIA Novosti/Alexander Astafyev)

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.

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