Interview with Andrey Reut

Andrey Reut, a journalist from the Izvestia daily newspaper, commented for Russia Today on the goals of the current North Pole expedition and possible obstacles it may encounter in terms of international legislation.

Russia Today: How strong a case does Russia have in claiming this part of the sea bed, because I understand that Denmark believes it is an extension of Greenland?

Andrey Reut: Of course it is a political question and there is no official international procedure for taking some part of a continental shelf somewhere, because there are different points of view. Some say it could be solved in the UN, some say on a  first come – the first served basis. But, of course, it is a question of international policy and it is a question of money.

RT: But there are scientific measures that can be taken to see whether that part of the land does belong to the mainland and after all this is what this expedition is all about, isn’t it? To clarify whether this is a just claim?

A.R.: Of course, there are different aims of that expedition because they will carry out scientific research of those places under water, and they can prove that those parts of the shelf  start at the Russian territory and end up somewhere in international waters. The ideological part of that expedition is very important because if we first come there and we first see that there are treasures under the water, we can tell everyone they are ours.

RT: That’s it, you put your finger on the treasures we are talking about. Possibly this area is very rich in natural resources, and that is probably the main reason why Russia goes to sea on its own, but there are other countries which may well say: “We have a claim as well.” So, we are going to get into a territorial dispute here, are we not?

A.R.: There are different points of view on how to share the Arctic region, and, of course, there are parts of Norway, the U.S., Denmark and other countries, but it is all about $US 7 TRLN, just in oil and gas, in that shelf of the Arctic region. But if we talk just about the Russian part of it, then it's the Lomonosov Ridge where the expedition is going. It is about oil and gas and also gold, silver, nickel and many other minerals. No one knows how many treasures lie under the soil out there.

RT: But there is a great suspicion that there could be a lot. Why is it that no other country has done this sort of expedition before?

A.R.: Because it is not exactly easy to get there and there is no technology yet to extract that treasure from under the sea, and of course it is necessary to have a lot of money, a lot of technology to get oil and gas from under ice and water. It is not easy.

RT: Well, that unprecedented thing to dive over four thousand meters below the surface and of course in Arctic waters will make it an extremely dangerous mission?

A.R.: Yes, of course and I can tell you that Russia too has not enough technology for underwater Arctic mining at the moment, but Russia has money, has the possibility to get help from abroad, and help from foreign companies, and there are plenty of examples of such things. I can tell you about the Shtokman project that Gazprom will do with the Total company of France. The French company is providing the technology to get gas from the shelf. Of course such things can be done at the Lomonosov Ridge.

RT: This is a fragile part of the world, this is an unexplored frontier. Surely, environmentalists will be up in arms about the prospects of the extraction of these natural resources.

A.R.: I think that the environmentalists have their business, as everyone has his own. If they want to get money from someone – they will do their job.

RT: But there is an environmental issue. Surely, this must be of a major concern and there could be a lot of lobbying and protests against this.

A.R.: You are absolutely right that there will be protests all over the world. There will be conflicts, but we can look at history and there were similar conflicts in every part of the world where someone wants to take something from under the sea bed.