Geography
Natural Resources Ministry: Russia puts in a claim for 1.2 mln sq km of the Arctic Ocean shelf
© RIA Novosti. A. Pavluk

Natural Resources Ministry: Russia puts in a claim for 1.2 mln sq km of the Arctic Ocean shelf

A section of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean with a total area of 1.2 mln sq km, which Russia is laying claim to, is expected to contain hydrocarbon resources consisting of 4.9 bln of standard reference fuel, the press service of the Ministry of Natural Resources reported, commenting on Russia's application to the UN Commission for an extension of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.

"The revised application does not change the concept of the outer borders of Russia's continental shelf, approved by the government in February 2000. It involves a seabed area beyond the 200-mile zone within the entire Russian Arctic sector including a North Pole zone and the southern tip of the Gakkel Ridge," the press service quoted Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi as saying.

According to the Natural Resources Minister, Russia has conducted large-scale on-site geological and geographical studies in the Arctic Ocean to prepare its application. In particular, the studies included exploring the Mendeleev Rise and the Lomonosov Ridge, bathymetric surveys and seismic surveys.

Consideration of Russia's application is scheduled for the next plenary session of the UN Commission. According to current international law, almost all aspects regarding the use and development of different areas of the World Ocean are governed by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Currently, the Convention is observed by 155 states, including most of the main developed maritime countries except the United States. Russia adopted and ratified the Convention in 1997. An extended continental shelf (beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines used to determine the breadth of the territorial sea) in the Arctic is being claimed by five states: Russia, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and the United States. All of the Arctic states, in registering their rights to the shelf in this region, act or intend to act in accordance with the procedures stipulated by the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, that is, by submitting applications to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). All of the Arctic states, except the United States, have submitted their applications to the CLCS. The US is preparing its application but will be able to apply only after joining the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea.