Rat Race for Arctic Oil as Ice Thins

Countries to Duke it Out Over Arctic Seabed

Written by Green Chip Stocks
Posted May 18, 2011 at 6:14PM

Wikileaks released secret U.S. embassy cables revealing detailed information alluding to the quickening pace of the rat race for natural resources buried under the melting ice in the Arctic tundra.  

With no rightful heir, oil companies worldwide are striving to stake their claims.

And the ice is melting much faster than anticipated, so people are now swooning over the unfolding business prospects.   

If you've been following Green Chip Living, you may remember Jimmy Mengel's article, "What if the BP Spill Happened in the Arctic Ocean?", published back in November...

Jimmy tackled questions regarding what would happen if a similar disaster happened in the Arctic Ocean, where hazardous weather, a lack of equipment in any nearby vicinity, and limited transportation — mostly due to the fact that the area is so uninhabited on account of temperature and weather — must be taken into account.

Yes, the ice is certainly melting; but that doesn't change the majority of the factors Jimmy mentions in his article — all of which are important for oil companies to consider before fossil fuel extraction efforts begin.  

Unfortunately, the luster of profit is often brighter than the threat of danger... especially when there are billions of barrels of oil on the Arctic seabed.  

It is believed 25% of undiscovered gas and oil remains underneath the Arctic ice.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, oil reserves near the Greenland shore are approximately the same size as those in the North Sea. 

Once no man's land, Greenland is about to be prom queen in this popularity contest. Russia and the U.S. are two of the biggest competitors, keeping their eyes intently on the prize: Greenland.  

This race to exploit actually began picking up speed back in 2007 after a Russian flag was submerged underwater and planted on the seafloor beneath the North Pole.  

Russian Ambassador Dmitriy Ragozin told NATO, "The 21st century will see a fight for resources and Russia should not be defeated in this fight."

On the other hand, the United States is equally determined to succeed in the fight.

Wikileaks show U.S. diplomats see Greenland on a route to independence and, thus, an ideal opportunity for American-based oil and gas companies to get in on the action.   

Canada is also a concern to competing players. Our neighbors to the north have territorial claims on seafloor resources near the North West passage.

Cairn Energy, a British oil company, was also reported claiming they're "leading the charge".

With all the assertive competitors just waiting to take action — and all feeling equally entitled — what will be done?

Can an agreement be made, or will warlike scenarios soon emerge?   

According to BBC Newsnight:

The cables were released by the Wikileaks whistleblower website as foreign ministers from the eight Arctic Council member states - Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland — met in Nuuk, Greenland, on Thursday to sign a treaty on international search and rescue in the Arctic and discuss the region's future challenges.

Aside from the wealth and profits hidden with the gas and oil under the melting ice, there are also concerns of the potential for overall environmental disaster...

Environmentalists are appalled in regards to the focus of this on-going debate especially since fossil fuels are one of the key factors responsible for the irreversible damage already done by global warming.  

Environmental campaigner Ben Ayliffe sheds light on the issue, saying, "Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, oil companies like Cairn are rushing in to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place."

One big spill would not only jeopardize the future of the Arctic oil project, but the ocean and surrounding landmasses as well.

To echo Jimmy's point, it would be far worse than the BP oil spill in the Gulf...

Brittany Stepniak