U.S. ship heads for Arctic to define territory (Oil territory that is...... ... )
This includes 90 billion barrels of oil, enough to supply the world for three years at current consumption rates, or to supply America for 12 according to one report.
The region is also thought to have 1,670 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, which is equal to about a third of the world's known gas reserves.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard cutter will embark on an Arctic voyage this week to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska and map the ocean floor, data that could be used for oil and natural gas exploration.
U.S. and University of New Hampshire scientists on the Coast Guard Cutter Healy will leave Barrow, Alaska, on Thursday on a three-week journey. They will create a three-dimensional map of the Arctic Ocean floor in a relatively unexplored area known as the Chukchi borderland.
The Healy will launch again on September 6, when it will be joined by Canadian scientists aboard an icebreaker, who will help collect data to determine the thickness of sediment in the region. That is one factor a country can use to define its extended continental shelf.
With oil at $114 a barrel, after hitting a record $147 in July, and sea ice melting fast, countries like Russia and the United States are looking north for possible energy riches.
"These are places nobody's gone before, in essence, so this is a first step," said Margaret Hays, the director of the oceanic affairs office at the U.S. State Department. She said the data collected may provide information to the public about future oil and natural gas sources for the United States.
This will be the fourth year that the United States has collected data to define the limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic.
Russia, which has claimed 460,000 square miles of Arctic waters, last summer planted its flag on the ocean floor of the North Pole.
Hays said the Alaskan continental shelf may lie up to 600 nautical miles from the coastline, far beyond the 200-mile (322-km) limit where coastal countries have sovereign rights over natural resources.
The research could also shed light on other potential energy resources, like methane frozen in ice under the ocean, that Hays said might one day have some commercial interest.
Larry Mayer, a university scientist, said melting sea ice, presumably from global warming, helped last year's mission. "It was bad for the Arctic, but very very good for mapping."
HEALY is designed to conduct a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches, and accommodations for up to 50 scientists. HEALY is designed to break 4 ½ feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees F. The science community provided invaluable input on lab lay-outs and science capabilities during design and construction of the ship. At a time when scientific interest in the Arctic Ocean basin is intensifying, HEALY substantially enhances the United States Arctic research capability
As a Coast Guard cutter, HEALY is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the polar regions, including logistics, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and enforcement of laws and treaties.
Staking Arctic claim
- United States
Thanks to its vast Alaskan territory the US will be guaranteed of a huge oil strike.
Last year by planting its flag on the seabed at the magnetic pole with the help of an experimental submarine, they have increased their claimed area immensely. Russia will most likely have no concern with the environmental cost of drilling in the wilderness.
- Greenland (Denmark)
The island nation is financially dependent on its mother country, Denmark. An oil strike could change all that. The Miniscule population of 50,000 fears being trampled over by outsiders in a future oil rush. Denmark was the first to stake its claim to the North Pole.
Canada was putt off by Danish claims to the North Pole and has conducted military exercises over its vast northern territories to strengthen its claim to the Arctic. Ottawa has sent naval vessels and specialist troops to the cold far north.
Although not wanting to be left out of an Arctic carve-up. It backs a UN treaty to demilitarize the Arctic region and protect its pristine environment.