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Russia submits revised application for extending Arctic shelf to UN

February 10, 4:36 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
Russian Minister Sergei Donskoy said that the preparation of the materials for the new application continued for more than 10 years, including extensive research in the Arctic Ocean
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UNITED NATIONS, February 10. /TASS/. Russia submitted a revised application for the extension of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean to the United Nations. Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy held the presentation for the members of the UN Commission.

He said that the preparation of the materials for the new application continued for more than 10 years, including extensive research in the Arctic Ocean to study the geological nature of the Mendeleev and Lomonosov ridges, which are claimed by Russia.

"From 2002 to 2014 9 unique complex geological-geophysical expeditions were held in the central part of the Arctic Basin, using research and atomic-powered icebreakers, as well as research submarines," the minister said, speaking before the UN Commission members on continental shelf borders.

Canada, Denmark and United States do not oppose UN considering Russia’s proposal

According to the minister, Canada, Denmark and the United States, making claims for the accession of the Arctic territories, do not object the United Nations Commission reviewing Russia’s application.

The official noted that the members of the commission, in addition to the Russian application, received through the UN secretariat three verbal notes from Canada, Denmark and the United States. "Not a single verbal contained objections to the consideration of the partly revised application from Russia," Donskoy said.

Meanwhile, he confirmed the existence of pending issues on delimitation of the maritime space in the Arctic Ocean between Russia, Denmark and Canada. The minister noted that the areas of the continental shelf to the north of Greenland, listed in the application of Denmark filed in December 2014, substantially overlap areas claimed by the Russian Federation. In particular, the North Pole area and a part of the Lomonosov ridge. It is possible that similar overlaps could be found in the application of Canada that is to be submitted to the Commission later.

According to Donskoy, the three countries have held consultations on this issue and reached an understanding - they do not oppose the UN considering the applications from each country and making corresponding recommendations.

The official said that in 2011 Russia reached an agreement with Norway on maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. In addition, on June 1, 1990, Moscow signed an agreement with Washington on delimitation of areas, economic zones and continental shelf in the Chukchi and Bering Seas, as well as in the Arctic and Pacific oceans. The United States have ratified the Treaty, while Russia temporarily applies it since the signing to the present day.

Application to be reviewed within 2-4 years

Donskoy also pointed out that Russia hopes that the application for an extension of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean will be considered by the United Nations within two to four years.

According to him, the UN Commission experts could begin studying materials provided by Russia later this month. "The application is actually very extensive, it has a lot of information, and we hope to meet the standard deadline for reviewing applications - around two years, maximum four. So this year, most likely, it will be difficult to put a definitive end to it," the minister said.

He said that currently the UN Commission is considering the time they might start discussing specific sections of the Russian proposal. "We hope that it will be done in the near future, I would even say that we insist on it," Donskoy noted.

Russia has already tried to defend its right to an enclave in the Arctic Ocean in 2001. Subsequently, Russia's application, which also included the area in the Sea of Okhotsk, was rejected by the Commission. After that, it was decided to request accession of these territories individually. In March 2014, the Russian claims to the land in the Sea of Okhotsk, 52,000 sq. km in area, were satisfied.

According to Donskoy, the concept of a revised application for the extension of the Arctic shelf was not changed. "The new application presents the same area, but with some modifications - in connection with the new substantiating materials that confirmed that Russia’s position was right," he said. In particular, the revised application included areas near the southern tip of the Gakkel ridge and Podvodnikov basin.

In addition, Russia plans to include accession of the Lomonosov ridge and other areas of the seabed, including the Mendeleev ridge, Nansen and Amundsen basins. According to the lowest estimates, it will increase the potential hydrocarbon reserves by 5 bln tonnes of equivalent fuel. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that Russia's claims are based on scientific understanding of the fact that the component parts of the Central Arctic submarine elevations complex have continental nature and are submarine elevations - natural components of the continental margin.


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