The Ice Cold War
Three nations are very eager to get a big piece of the cake that’s waiting in the far North.
Russia, Canada and Denmark have their utensils at the ready, but before the initial cut can be made one must ask, “How big is the cake?”
Currently 90 billion barrels of oil and 47 billion cubic meter of gas can be found under the Arctic Ocean, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Zinc, nickel, and diamonds are among the other valuable natural resources that can be found around the North Pole. No wonder the three aforementioned countries have their sights set to the north, as the cake sounds pretty sweet, right?
The race to get the biggest piece of the cake has started a new gold rush far in the North. The exclusive economic zones in the Arctic have resulted in the formation of the UN International Seabed Authority. Another important UN Commission, known as the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), also focuses on the limits of the continental shelf. The CLCS consists of 20 geologists and international law specialists who are working to “to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention) in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of those limits; its recommendations and actions shall not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.”
Perhaps the most important matter at the moment is the focus on the Lomonosov Ridge, which is approximately 1,800 kilometers long and 200 kilometers wide. First discovered in 1948, it cannot be found on your typical map as it lies deeply beneath the surface of the polar ice caps. This unusual underwater ridge has become exceedingly significant for the three states and is a major contribution to the current territorial dispute. If the ridge is combined with the precious area of tectonic plates, under international sea law, the state who owns a particular part of the Arctic plates will in fact own a large majority of the Lomonosov Ridge as well–meaning the biggest piece of the internationally desired cake.
The continental platter of Russia, Canada, and Denmark have remained mostly neutral and calm demeanored until this crucial point. One can bet that there will be a new claim or two, particularly from the Russian side to dominate the Arctic Ocean, which will surely become one of the largest territorial games in the next 30 years.
Who will end up with the biggest piece of cake in the end?