MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia plans to finalize its official claim for a large swath of the continental shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk and hand it over to the United Nations by the end of the year, Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi said Wednesday.
“We are to finalize the technical part of the bid on President Putin’s order by year-end,” the Russian resources chief told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on petroleum exploration.
Donskoi added that the paperwork has been prepared by a slew of agencies, from the foreign and defense ministries to the presidential administration.
There is still a lot of work ahead for the country, which is seeking to solidify its grip on a sea shelf in the western Pacific Ocean as large as Switzerland. Donskoi said a government resolution will be drafted on the zone to mark it on maps as part of Russia’s territory.
The 52,000-square-kilometer area of the Sea of Okhotsk is estimated to hold over one billion tons of gas and oil, as well as vast fisheries that Russia had not been earlier eligible to tap.
Last month, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf unanimously voted to confirm Russia’s petition to recognize the zone as part of the Russian continental shelf, affirming the scientific and legal reasoning of the appeal.
According to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, borders of continental shelves are established based on the recommendations of the UN commission and are definitive and universally binding. Russia now has an exclusive right to develop the zone, situated 200 nautical miles from the Russian coastline.