The news that the Russians have discovered another site of "huge" oil and gas reserves under the Arctic Ocean deserves notice because such reserves are to be added to those already known in Russia and neighboring states in Central Asia, especially Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and the Causasus. When the actual amounts of oil and gas reserves there become known the amount will increase the proportion of known fossil fuel available in the great north-south arc between the Gulf and northern Russia within which 70 percent of the worlds fossil fuel is believed to exist. Add to this the strategic location of Russia with respect to the burgeoning economy of China and the still growing economy of Europe, and Russia's leverage in world affairs grows to an even more imposing level.
Yesterday's news report by the Associated Press says, specifically, the following:
Russsia has made a "claim to a mountain range under the Arctic Ocean that is believed to contain huge oil and gas reserves." In August a group of Russian scientists "planted a Russian flag under the North Pole ice" to establish that claim. "[A] U.S. study suggests [this site] may contain as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas." The Russians are not the only ones who claim the location, but the Russian expedition showed that "the 1,240-mile Lomonosov Ridge under the Arctic is part of Russia's shelf."
The strategic importance of this discovery has not been missed by state leaders even though it has been unremarked by the public: "Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic, while Denmark sent a team of scientists to seek evidence that the ridge was attached to its territory of Greenland. The U.S. government also sent an icebreaker for a research expedition."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.