10/12/2011, 00.00
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Arctic deposits could allow Moscow to double its energy reserves

The Federation ready to claim new territorial rights to buy up the vast oil and gas deposits under the ice. But to exploit it up-to-date technology and investment needed.
Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) – In a matter of years Russia could be in the position to dispute the title of the world’s greatest oil producer with Saudi Arabia. Provided it manages to seize and exploit the vast oil fields discovered in the Arctic, which would nearly double its national energy reserves. Russia’s aspirations have been expressly declared by the government itself, which will compete with other international rivals.

Speaking at the last congress of the United Russia ruling party in late September, the Minister of Natural Resources, Yuri Trutnev, said that preliminary estimates speak of reserves comparable to those on the mainland.

Trutnev's words have been confirmed by studies carried out by the United States Geological Survey, which state that there are 90 billion barrels of oil, 47 thousand billion cubic meters of gas and large deposits of liquefied gas, almost all ( 84%), in the undersea basin ranging from Siberia to Canada. A kind of energy Eldorado, which may open up to the world thanks to the melting of the glaciers and the development of new technologies. Officially, Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Russia's Rosneft are interested in exploration.

The Federation will have a long battle on its hands to secure the immense booty. Based on the United Nations Convention on Maritime Law, in 2013 Moscow will demand the extension of its borders to claim a significant area of the Pole. Denmark, which has sovereignty over Greenland, will follow suit. Canada and the United States have no intention either of remaining idly by. China is also conducting studies and explorations. "A great job was done this year, our ships have covered a distance of 22 thousand kilometres and conducted activities to justify Russia’s claims in 2013."

According to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the second international forum on the Arctic, September 22 in Arkhangelsk, Russia has "already installed one of the largest oil platforms in the Arctic and will open a new chapter in the history of exploration" of this area . Very soon, "these pages will contain the opening of the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea and the development of resources in the Kara Sea and the Yamal peninsula," said the prime minister.

Moscow boasts safety, but experts warn that getting territorial rights without appropriate technology, huge investments and expertise will serve little purpose. For now everything relies entirely on the strategic partnership established between state-giant Rosneft and ExxonMobil, while the Kremlin is certain of the arrival of other large corporations ready to challenge the cumbersome bureaucracy and the fickleness of the Russian partners in order to get rich in business.

The race for the Arctic is viewed with alarm by environmentalists who warn against the risks of drilling in such a sensitive area to the balance of the planet’s ecosystems. Putin has assured that everything will be in full "compliance with the strictest environmental standards." (N.A.)

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