After years of comprehensive research, Russia on 3 August submitted its claims for additional territories in the Arctic. The claim includes both the Mendeleev and Lomonosov Ridges, two major structures beneath the Arctic Ocean.
“… the claim determinating the outer borders of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean is based on the scientific understanding that the central Arctic underwater ridges, among them the Lomonosov, Medeleev, Alfa and Chukotskoye Heights, as well as the in between basins of Podvodnikov and Chukotskaya, have a continental character”, an offical statement, refered to by RIA Novosti, reads.
It will now be up to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to decide if Russia should be entitled to include the huge additional areas under its sovereignty. The Commission confirms that “the consideration of the partial revised submission made by the Russian Federation will be included in the provisional agenda of the next ordinary session”, the Commission website informs.
Russia in 2001 made a first official submission of its Arctic claims to the UN Commission. However, the Commission in 2002 responded that additional research is needed before a decision can be taken.
Neighboring Norway was in 2009 the first country to get its Arctic territorial claims approved, while Denmark/Greenland submitted a claim in December 2014. That latter claim includes ownership of the North Pole and is consequently in conflict with the Russian claim.
If approved, the Russian claim will expand the country’s territory by 1.2 million square kilometers. Estimates indicate that the area include 594 oil fields and 159 gas fields as well as two major nickel fields and more than 350 gold deposits. Initial recoverable fuel resources are estimated to 258 billion tons of fuel equivalent, representing 60 percent of Russia’s total hydrocarbon resources.