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Drawing lines in the Arctic snow

Arctic ridges in Longyearbyen, Norway

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Oil is still 65 percent more expensive than it was last year. So its slight dip of late hasn't curbed enthusiasm for drilling. Especially in relatively untapped places, like the Arctic. The Great White North is expected to become increasingly important for drilling as polar ice melts. British scientists unveil a new map of the region today. From North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin reports.


Janet Babin: Ninety billion barrels of oil. U.S. government scientists estimate that's what's under the Arctic ice. No wonder the region's launched an international land grab.

Problem is, no one's really plotted out what belongs to whom.

This new map of the Arctic solves that problem. Martin Pratt directs the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University in the U.K., the team that put the map together.

Martin Pratt: We're hoping that the map will help policy makers to understand the real geographical situation in the Arctic in terms of who claims what, where and where potential disputes might emerge.

Tensions escalated last year when Russia planted a flag on the seabed underneath the North Pole, hundreds of miles from the country's shoreline. Under international law, nations can only claim these resources if they're physically connected to the motherland.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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