Has Russia Won in the Arctic Oil and Gas Race?

1. The Arctic is a landscape that has been greatly altered by global warming. The Arctic Ocean is slowly opening its energy reserves for the exploitation of natural resources.

We have already looked more closely at Russia’s energy policy. Now we would like to take a closer look at Arctic energy policy. In recent years, short-term climate change has caused a warming of the Arctic. Russia has taken advantage of this and has already announced its territorial claims.

Russia claims a significant portion of the Arctic continental shelf, where most of the Arctic’s mineral resources, including Arctic energy reserves, are believed to be located.

2. The United States takes a rather indifferent view and does not agree that Russia can make territorial claims to the Arctic.

Russia claims energy reserves near the coast, from Siberia deep into the Arctic Ocean. The credibility of these claims depends on geological features that serve as indicators of geographic boundaries. The United States and other Arctic nations are examining the extent of their respective spheres of influence in this region. Does Russia have constituent rights to the Arctic Ocean based on its northern border and continental shelf boundaries?

Can Russia claim these areas on the basis of its history from the North? The Americans, by comparison, have not even signed the internationally valid treaties recognizing the territorial claims of the states bordering the Arctic. 

3. Other Arctic states are skeptical of Russia’s territorial claims, but warn that they will make territorial claims themselves if Russia exploits the Arctic economically.

In addition, other Arctic states claim territorial rights over certain areas near their own territorial borders, including Canada and Norway. Norway itself is very well placed to deploy its Arctic forces in a targeted manner and has sufficient energy reserves in the North Sea if it does not wish to recognize Russia’s sovereignty claims in the Arctic. There is a certain potential for conflict here. Canada, for its part, has not yet asserted its territorial claims.


Damien Degeorges, Planète Arctique, Le Monde.fr: La France et l’Arctique au-delà de la COP21, 2016: http://arctique.blog.lemonde.fr/

Pierre Thouverez, Techniques de l’Ingénieur, Entreprises et marchés, L’Arctique devient une priorité pour la Russie, 2017: https://www.techniques-ingenieur.fr/actualite/articles/arctique-priorite-russie-50409/

République Française, Le Grand Défi de l’Arctique, Feuille de Route Nationale Sur L’Arctique, 2016: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/frna_-_vf_-17-06-web-bd_cle8b359f.pdf 

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