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US mission to Arctic will lay claim to gas reserves

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Catherine Elsworth
London Telegraph
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008

A US Coast Guard cutter will set out on Thursday on a three-week trip to map a relatively unexplored area known as the Chukchi borderland, about 600 miles north of Alaska.

The cutter Healy will then launch again on September 6 accompanied by Canadian scientists aboard an icebreaker, who will conduct further tests to help identify the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska.

The US is attempting to prove the Alaskan continental shelf stretches far beyond the 200-mile limit where coastal countries have sovereign rights over natural resources.

(Article continues below)

The joint operation comes amid increasing international competition to tap the Arctic’s unexplored energy stores, thought to include 90 billion barrels of oil, about 15 per cent of the world’s undiscovered reserves, as well as a third of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, according to the US Geological Survey.

The five countries that border the Arctic Ocean – Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US – dispute the sovereignty of the region’s waters.

Russia has claimed 460,000 square miles of Arctic waters and in a move marking the escalating rivalry, planted its flag on the ocean floor of the North Pole last summer.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 3:14 am

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