The vast riches of the Arctic shelf
The Russian Federation has initiated a new phase in the development of the Arctic but efforts have faced, among other obstacles, budgetary constraints. Despite this fact there is no doubt that the Arctic is about to become one of the world’s transportation and industrial centers.
Major deposits of hydrocarbons have been discovered in Russia’s coastal areas and in international waters with Russia and the West contesting the riches of the Arctic. The Russian Federation for its part enjoys the most advantageous geographical location of all polar nations and has the largest territory bordering the region. Therefore Russia should not miss its chance to build its strategic reserves for the future and secure the shelf riches and the Arctic transport system.
Control over transportation will prove the decisive factor in developing the Arctic. After all, it is important not only who produces the resources, but also who transports them.
To date 11 oil and gas deposits have been discovered in the Barents Sea area. The Rusanovskoye and Leningradskoye condensate fields have been discovered on the Kara Sea shelf and a number of gas deposits have been found in the Gulf of Ob and Taz Bay. Russia will launch the construction of new oil- and gas-producing centres in the next few years on the basis of the fields discovered.
The vice-president of the World Petroleum Council Executive Committee, Anatoly Zolotukhin told the Voice of Russia that According to Russian estimates former “grey zones”, boast some 6.8 billion tons of oil equivalent and the coastal area, where these future hydrocarbons will be delivered have the required infrastructure to bring them to market.
The Arctic not only accounts for 91% of natural gas production. The continental part of the Arctic contains huge proven and anticipated deposits of other precious materials including copper-nickel ores, tin, platinoids, agro-chemical ores, rare metals, rare-earth elements, major deposits of gold, diamonds, tungsten, mercury, ferrous metals, raw materials for optical fibres and precious stones.
The bulk of the Arctic’s mineral resources are concentrated in the northern part of the Kola province where there are such resources as platinum-group metals, copper-nickel ores, titan, tantalum, niobium, rare-earth metals, iron, phosphorus, polymetals, fluorite, chrome, manganese, gold and diamonds.
Also, the Arctic is a unique place to control the change of climate, temperature and air flows. The Arctic is therefore quite attractive to fundamental sciences.
According to expert estimates, the Arctic contains 90 billion barrels of oil and 47,000,000,000,000 (trillion) cubic meters of natural gas. The Arctic continental shelf may hold as much as a quarter of all of the world’s deposits of hydrocarbons and an equivalent of 10,000,000,000 (billion) tons of oil, not to mention the gold, nickel and diamonds.
Russian researchers estimate the non-discovered reserves of hydrocarbons, bedded potentially in the Russian water area, at 9 billion to 10 billion tons of equivalent fuel; hence the polar nations’ striving for extending the areas of their continental shelves.
When elaborating on Russia’s position on the issue, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that only the subarctic countries that can discuss the division of the Arctic. Other nations shall not but are welcome to sail in the Arctic waters and/or engage themselves in exploration work.