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13 Mar, 2008 02:33

Could Arctic ice cause world war?

The Arctic may become a major battle ground for nations trying to obtain a share of its vast natural reserves, according to a written report for a two-day EU summit in Brussels. The U.S. and Russia top the list of those vying for the area, rich in oil and

As the ice caps melt and the area opens up for exploitation of its raw materials, the stakes are becoming even higher.

“The Arctic’s hydrocarbon resources are extremely important for the whole world. And though they are difficult to access and very expensive to develop, their amount is huge and it is the last untapped place on our planet. In fact they are the future generations' hydrocarbon resource stocks,” said Yury Ampilov from the VNIIGaz Research Institute.

It is thought that about 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves are in the Arctic.

The UN panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be almost ice free by 2070, meaning those resources will become accessible.

As the ice melts new shipping routes will appear and, for example, the distance by ship between Scandinavia and Japan could be halved.

The European Union is now calling for an Arctic policy to be drawn up to deal with the changing geopolitics of the region.

“Climate change is a threat supplier and a threat multiplier. It would have consequences that would increase risks for societies almost everywhere on the globe,” believes EU External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrer-Waldner.