Russia submits application for stake of $30 trillion Arctic shelf oil and gas rights

A revised application by Russia was submitted to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Moscow argues that the Lomonosov Ridge, Mendeleev-Alpha Rise and Chukchi Plateau belong to ‘submarine elevations that are natural components of the continental margin’.

The Podvodnikov and Chukchi Basins – separating these three phenomenon – are also listed in the claim. These have ‘continental origin and belong to submarine elevations that are natural components of the continental margin’.

The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes the right for countries with sovereignty over their territorial sea to set a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

In cases where the continental shelf expands beyond the set limit, the zone maybe expanded by up to 350 nautical miles with full control of its natural resources. Under the Convention, such natural components do not fall under the distance limit of 350 nautical miles from the lines of departure.

The Convention on the Law of the Sea enables a country to broaden its economic zone on the condition that the sea floor outside its border is a natural continuation of the continent’s fringe.

At stake are 30% of unexplored global reserves of natural gas and 15% of unexplored oilfields.

The new submission is based on deep seismic sounding in the central section of the Arctic basin, seismic and bathymetric profiling, and geological sampling.

The Russian application is likely to face opposition from four other nations with Arctic interests, namely the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark (Greenland).


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