Enough evidence for Arctic claim

The icebreaker "Kapitan Dranitsyn" used Kirkenes as base before taking part in shelf studies for the UN claim in 2012. Photo: Trude Pettersen

Russia has gathered enough scientific evidence to substantiate the country’s territorial claim for parts of the Arctic shelf to the UN, a Russian scientist said.


The scientist said that a series of studies, including sample drilling at a depth of over 2,500 meters, have provided sufficient evidence to prove that that the Lomonosov and the Mendeleev Ridges are made of continental crust about 460-470 million years old.

The territory is believed to hold vast hydrocarbon deposits, which are becoming more accessible as rising global temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

“For the past decade, Russian scientists have gathered enough scientific evidence to substantiate the country’s territorial claim for hydrocarbon-rich areas of the Arctic shelf,” Valery Vernikovsky of the Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics said to RIA Novosti.

The claims will be submitted to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in spring 2015, BarentsObserver reported earlier.

Russia submitted a territorial claim for the Lomonosov Ridge to the United Nations in 2001 but it was turned down with the justification that “geological and geophysical issues were not properly studied.”

“That’s why several scientific institutes, including ours, have studied these problems under the supervision of the [Federal Agency for Subsoil Use] Rosnedra and the Nature Resources Ministry,” Vernikovsky said.

Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed by Russia in 1997, if a country can prove its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim a right to more of the ocean floor. 

If Russia proves that the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are an extension of the Russian continental shelf, the country will receive the right to the additional 1.2 million square kilometers in the Arctic