Countries Hope to Stake Out Arctic Extraction Rights

Ownership of Arctic oil is a topic for debate among the world’s most powerful nations, all of whom have a vested interest in claiming shipping and extraction rights in this lucrative region. The International Business Times reports that representatives from countries around the world gathered at a conference in Norway in January to discuss Arctic resource development:

Russia is at the Arctic Frontiers conference to ponder the event’s theme of “Climate and Energy.” And China, too, is proving an eager participant. The weeklong meeting is the annual forum for world leaders to consider the Arctic through many lenses — as a scientific frontier, as a budding business opportunity for shipping firms and oil companies, and as a political arena replete with power grabs and cross-border cooperation.

The gathering of some 1,400 participants takes place amid growing international tension over which countries have rightful claims to the region. The opportunity to develop natural resources in the Arctic is vast as reservoirs there still hold 13 percent of the world’s oil and 30 percent of its natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of developing those resources, however, can run 50 percent to 100 percent higher than if the same reserves were to be tapped in Texas.

Policy experts believe that the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum that will be chaired by the U.S. for two years starting this spring, may take the lead on addressing these ownership concerns. However, China, who was granted observer status in the Arctic Council, continues to pursue development opportunities in the Arctic.

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