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Rivals get ready to divide the Arctic jackpot

Rivals get ready to divide the Arctic jackpot
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Officials from five Arctic coast countries will meet in Greenland tomorrow to discuss how they will share amongst themselves the region’s wealth of resources. The Arctic sea-bed is thought to hold up to a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves. With such riches at stake it’s a pie the US, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark all want a slice of.

Global warming is expected to open up access for drilling over the next few decades, heightening fears of a scramble for territory. Russia angered its rivals last year when it planted a flag on the sea-bed under the North Pole.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov played down the move, saying it’s not the first time a country has staked such an unusual territorial claim. “In addition to the American flag on the moon, you can list the flags of all nations whose citizens conquered Everest,” said Lavrov.

But such a lucrative tug-of-war could come at an enormous cost, warns Viktor Kremenyuk of the Moscow-based US-Canada Institute. He said: “Today, simply what we are seeing is the beginning of some future conflict over the deposits or the resources of the Arctic area. That would of course be pitiful because big nations are involved and they will be capable of fighting each other.”

The two-day conference was called by Denmark and organisers hope it will lay down the rules before the goldrush begins.

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