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Geopolitics of Arctic oil and gas: the dwindling relevance of territorial claims
Wong, E. (2013). Geopolitics of Arctic oil and gas: the dwindling relevance of territorial claims. New Voices in Public Policy 7(1): 1-24.
In: New Voices in Public Policy. Mason Publishing: Virginia. ISSN 1947-2633, more

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  • Wong, E.

    Since the Arctic is abundant in natural resources, legal jurisdiction over Arctic territory has become a contentious issue. This paper examines how undiscovered Arctic oil and gas resources are distributed within the territories of the eight Arctic nations and within the territories claimed by these nations. Knowing how resources are distributed will help determine whether it is worth having disputes over the claimed territories as well as determining the importance of the U.S. ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).This paper utilized geo-processing and areal estimation from United States Geological Survey (USGS), Arctic resource data, and territorial border data for probing the above issues. The analysis suggests that most of the resources are distributed within existing rather than claimed territories. The key conclusions are: (1) extended continental shelf claims should not be a major point of contention; (2) the U.S. and Russia are overwhelmingly the largest holders of undiscovered Arctic oil and gas; (3) the U.S. has little reason to ratify the UNCLOS for the purpose of securing energy resources; and (4) Greenland may be unexpectedly important in future Arctic discussions. These findings alter the geopolitics of undiscovered Arctic resources and shift the importance onto energy resources within existing territories.

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