Arctic expedition reaches North Pole

The biggest ever polar expedition “Arctic 2007” has reached the North Pole. The mission is to explore the seabed and prove Russian territorial rights to an area rich in oil and gas.

The two expedition vessels – the nuclear-powered “Rossiya” and scientific ship “Akademik Fyodorov” – have already pushed through more than 1,200 kilometres in the Barents Sea.

The expedition will culminate when it reaches the top of the world, where Russian subs will take a historic dive to the seabed as deep as 4,300 metres.

On Sunday, the subs Mir-1 and Mir-2 underwent tests. They dived 1,500 metres down and safely returned to the surface. The subs’ creator and first pilot, Anatoly Sagalevich, says he is excited at the prospect of diving at the North Pole and assesses the task as difficult and quite dangerous.

The Mirs are two of four subs in the world capable of such deep dives. Their record exceeds 6,000 metres. They are best-known for the work they did for James Cameron’s movie 'Titanic', where they did all the underwater shooting. But Mr Sagalevich says this time it’s going to be much more complicated.

Numerous scientists from all possible spheres onboard the ships, make this Russia’s biggest polyscientific expedition ever. But it’s not only about science. The future of massive fossil reserves of the Arctic may be at stake there. With this expedition, Russia may significantly extend its exclusive economic zones in the north. Its aim is to prove that vast areas of the Arctic almost up to the North Pole are in fact a part of the continental shelf.

“Now it’s considered that the Eurasian continental shelf only stretches for a thin strip along the shore, but there is a theory that all the vast areas as deep as 500 metres are also part of the shelf that just sank as a result of tectonic processes. The tests and studies that we’ll carry out in this expedition, including the study of the seabed samples,.could help prove it,” explains Academician Yury Leonov, Russia’s biggest name in geophysics, who is also with the expedition.

Pyotr Obraztsov, a journalist from the daily Izvestia newspaper, says the profit which Russia can obtain if it is proved that the Lomonosov and Mendeleyev ridges are a continuation of Russia's shelf is enormous.

To read full version of RT interview with Pyotr Obraztsov please follow this link