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Russia, Canada and Denmark discuss claimed 'disputable' Arctic shelf zones

OTTAWA, May 27. /TASS/. Russia, Canada and Denmark continue to discuss the so-called disputable zones in their claims to the UN for bigger portions of the Arctic continental shelf, a Russian senator, Igor Chernyshenko, told TASS on Friday after a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (SCPAR) in Ottawa.

"The claims, filed by Russia, Canada and Denmark, overlap in a few cases," he said. "Without a consensus between the countries, the UN commission is unable to take a decision, thus we have been working on this issue."

The countries’ parliamentarians met for the first time a few months earlier in Moscow, and at the meeting in Ottawa they agreed to continue the work.

"It is a time-consuming process, and it is impossible to quote any due dates," the Russian senator said, adding as the consensus is reached, Russia, Canada and Denmark will file the solution on the disputable Arctic shelf zones with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (the Commission or CLCS).

While commenting on the meeting in Canada, the Russian representative said he was "satisfied with it."

"We have outlined all items on our agenda," he said. The meeting participants discussed navigation along the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage; they stressed it is important that vessels in the Arctic use gas fuel instead of diesel. The parliamentarians discussed scientific cooperation between the countries.

Arctic shelf claims

Under the international law, nobody owns the North Pole and the surrounding part of the Arctic Ocean. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US claim shares of the Arctic continental shelf. The northern seas’ undiscovered fuel reserves are estimated at 83 billion tonnes, where about 80% are in the Barents and Kara Seas. The chances are very high to open new oil and gas reserves in practically studied Arctic shelf zones.

In August, 2015, Russia filed with the UN Commission a claim for 1.2 million square km. Thus, if the claim is satisfied, the county will get additional 5 billion tonnes of undiscovered reserves.

Denmark, which together with Greenland claims 1 million square km, broke its claim into five parts. The first part was filed in April, 2009, and as of now it is the only satisfied claim from that country. The latter part, which includes the North Pole, was filed in December, 2014. Canada filed its claim with the UN on May 23, 2019.