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Canada claims scientific proof of Arctic territory

Latest update : 2008-08-09

A vast portion of the Arctic Ocean, estimated to contain some 90 billions barrels of oil, has been claimed by Canada. Canadian authorities are offering scientific proof that the territory, which Russia also wants to control, is theirs.

Canada said Friday it had scientific proof of its territorial claims over a vast portion of the Arctic, amid debate between northern nations over sovereignty in the oil-rich region.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said joint research with Denmark found that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge is attached to the North American and Greenland plates, directly challenging a Russian claim.

"The need to demonstrate our sovereignty in the Arctic has never been more important, which is why our government has made this research a top priority," Lunn said in a statement.

"Our commitment to this initiative, as well as other investments in the North, is ultimately about turning potential into prosperity for this remarkable region and for our country as a whole," he said.

Russia claims its continental shelf extends along the Lomonsov Ridge, a mountain chain running underneath the Arctic.

Five countries that border the Arctic Ocean -- Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States -- dispute the sovereignty of the region's waters.

The US Geological Survey believes that the Arctic region contains 90 billion barrels of oil just waiting to be explored.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) stipulates that any coastal state can claim territory 200 nautical miles from their shoreline and exploit the natural resources within that zone.

But nations must provide scientific proof of the natural extension of the continental plate.

Lunn said data shows that Canada could add an area of up to 1.75 million square kilometers -- three times the size of France.

Canada will present its findings at the 2008 International Geological Congress in Oslo this weekend.

Date created : 2008-08-09

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