Russia moves to secure Arctic shelf resources

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, noting that the Arctic shelf could contain 25% of the world's hydrocarbon resources, ordered the Russian government to develop a plan to develop the region.

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 17 -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, noting that the Arctic shelf could contain 25% of the world's hydrocarbon resources, ordered the Russian government to develop a plan to implement a newly created state policy toward development of the region.

"The president approved the basic principles of the state policy in this direction, and issued an instruction to prepare by Dec. 1 a plan to implement [them] in the Arctic region," said Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council.

RSC approved Medvedev's request, saying, "The principles of Russia's state policy in the Arctic to 2020 and beyond were approved, and a plan to implement them was adopted."

Medvedev earlier told the RSC, "This (Arctic) region is strategically important to us. The resolution of the country's long-term tasks and its competitiveness on global markets depend on its development.

According to expert estimates, the Arctic continental shelf could contain about one fourth of the world's hydrocarbon resources," Medvedev said. "The use of these resources is a guarantee of Russia's energy security in general," he added.

"Our first and fundamental task is to make the Arctic region Russia's resource base of the 21st century. A number of special issues, primarily ensuring [that we] secure the protection of Russia's national interests in the region, should be resolved today," Medvedev said.

"We must finalize and adopt a federal law on the southern border of Russia's Arctic zone," Medvedev said, adding, "It is our duty to our direct descendants. We have to ensure the long-term national interests of Russia in the Arctic."

In connection with his order, Medvedev said, "The network of ports and vessels that fly the Russian flag should be expanded. In general, this [Arctic] route should be developed as Russia's strategic national route."

The Russian president's orders coincided with reports that global warming is melting the Arctic icecap so fast that within decades it could be free of ice during the summer months, easing access for oil and mineral exploration.

According to Mark Serreze, an Arctic climate expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., the ice is in a "death spiral," and in a couple of decades could disappear altogether during the summer months.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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