Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Norway outlines Arctic boundary


OSLO, Norway (Reuters) — Norway became the first Arctic state to agree to limits on its northern seabed on Wednesday, stopping short of the North Pole in a regional territoria­l scramble driven partly by hopes of finding oil and gas.

Norway’s newly defined continenta­l shelf covers 235,000 square kilometres, or three-quarters the size of mainland Norway, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.

To the north, the shelf ends in deep water 550 kilometres from the Pole that is claimed by both Russia and Denmark.

“Norway is the first polar nation to complete this work,” Stoere told a news conference of talks with a UN commission that is trying to agree on limits to continenta­l shelves of coastal states as part of revisions to the UN Law of the Sea.

Agreement on shelf limits gives states the right to exploit resources on and beneath the seabed, such as oil and gas or the genes of marine organisms, officials said.

An official U.S. report last year said the Arctic contains enough oil and gas to meet current world demand for three years, or 90 billion barrels. And global warming may make the region more accessible.

Norway accepted adjustment­s by commission experts to a submission Oslo made in 2006 and would write the new limits into national law, Stoere said. Other states ringing the Arctic Ocean are Canada, the United States, Russia and Denmark via Greenland.

Stoere said boundaries were set between Norway and Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes.

“In the discussion about who owns the North Pole — it’s definitely not us,” he said.

Russia planted a flag on the seabed 4,261 metres beneath the North Pole in 2007 in a symbolic claim. Denmark has also said the Pole is Danish, because of a subsea ridge running north from Greenland toward Russia.

Stoeresaid­theNorwegi­anshelfsti­ll has some undefined areas because of long-running disputes over how to define the area around the Arctic archipelag­o of Svalbard.

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