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Russia files new bid with UN for expansion of Arctic continental shelf

August 04, 2015, 9:17 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

Beside Russia, making claims to the areas under the masses of the Arctic Ocean water are Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the US

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© ITAR-TASS/Lev Fedoseyev

UNITED NATIONS, August 4. /TASS/. Russia has filed a new bid for expansion of the limits of its Arctic continental shelf through the inclusion into it of the Lomonosov submerged ridge and some other sections of the Arctic Ocean floor.

A summary of the bid was published on Monday at the official website of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

The document says that the "[…] Partial revised Submission of the Russian Federation on the establishment of the OLCS in the Arctic Ocean proceeds from the scientific understanding that the constituent parts of the Complex of the Central Arctic Submarine Elevations, namely the Lomonosov Ridge, Mendeleev-Alpha Rise, and Chukchi Plateau, and separating them the Podvodnikov and Chukchi Basins have the continental origin and belong to submarine elevations that are natural components of the continental margin under paragraph 6 of Article 76 of the Convention, which are not subject to distance limit of 350 nautical miles from the baselines." ·

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 seafloor outside its border is a natural continuation of the continent’s fringe.

Beside Russia, making claims to the areas under the masses of the Arctic Ocean water are Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the US. The interest of the Arctic littoral countries to the submerged Arctic spaces stems from the geologists’ predictions that locked beneath them are 30% of unexplored global reserves of natural gas and 15% of unexplored oilfields.

Second attempt

Russia made the previous attempt to prove its right to the submerged Arctic enclave and to encompass the Lomonosov Ridge into it in 2001. Three years after that, the commission on the limits of the continental shelf turned Russia’s bid that also concerned a section of the Okhotsk seafloor.

Subsequently, the Russian government decided to press for the recognition of the country’s rights to these territories separately.

Russia’s claim to a section of the Sea of Okhotsk with an area of 52,000 sq km was answered in 2014.

From 2005 through 2014, Russian researchers did a broad spectrum of geophysical surveys in the Arctic Ocean in order to substantiate the bid with new evidence compiled with account of the recommendations the CLCS issued in 2002. Their list included deep seismic sounding in the central section of the Arctic basin, seismic and bathymetric profiling, and geological sampling.

"After 2002, in the central Arctic Basin Russia accomplished: deep seismic sounding of over 4,000 km; over 23,000 km of MCS lines; over 35,000 km of bathymetry survey; 120 stations of geological sampling," the document says.

Commission’s conclusions not confirmed

The results obtained by way of research efforts "do not confirm the viewpoint supported in the first recommendations of the Commission of 2002 that the complex of the Mendeleev-Alpha Rise formed as a large volcanic oceanic plateau built on the oceanic crust of the Canada Basin after its opening as a result of a passage of a magmatic "hot spot".

"These hypotheses were based on geological data and information on the adjacent land due to the absence or scarcity of the necessary geological and geophysical data on the deep-water part of the Arctic Basin at the time," says the document that is appended with a geological model of evolution of the Arctic basin with due account of the new data enabling a conclusion that these sections of the seafloor make up a natural continuation of the continental shelf.

Russia stressed that "large complex of geological and geophysical studies was carried out in recent years by the Danish, Canadian and American researchers." "However, most of the results of these studies are restricted and not available in public domain," the document says adding that Russia held consultations with Denmark, Canada and Norway. The application submitted by Denmark claims for continental shelf to the north of Greenland "substantially overlaps the areas included in this partial Submission."

The document noted that "final delimitation of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation in the Arctic Ocean with the Kingdom of Denmark, Canada, the Kingdom of Norway, and the United States shall be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Article 83 of the Convention (after the adoption of Commission recommendations on the Submission of the Russian Federation for establishment of the OLCS in the Arctic Ocean)."

"The consideration of the partial revised submission made by the Russian Federation will be included in the provisional agenda of the next ordinary session of the Commission" that will take place from October 12 until November 27 at UN headquarters, the document says adding that "upon completion of the consideration of the submission, the Commission shall make recommendations pursuant to article 76 of the Convention.".

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