Who owns the rights to Arctic seabed?

A general view shows the Artic Ocean off the coast of Greenland.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Arctic could become the major hot spot for oil and natural gas. But who owns the rights to the riches thought to be under the Arctic seabed? A major international summit on the issue opens today in Moscow. Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live with the latest. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So who's going to be at this summit and what are they trying to achieve there?

BEARD: Well, geologists and officials from countries with Arctic interest will be there -- that's the U.S., Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark. Now they've all laid claim to great chunks of the Arctic Ocean bed. The Russians, you may remember, actually planted a Russian flag on the sea floor. Now, a United Nations commission is going to rule on these claims, but given the potential riches, there's obvious scope for conflict. So today's summit will attempt to create a climate of cooperation and compromise over the Arctic.

CHIOTAKIS: What is beneath the Arctic seabed, Stephen?
Is it worth all of this?

BEARD: We don't know for sure, but according the U.S. Geological Survey, it could hold 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil. There are skeptics who doubt this, but the case for Arctic Oil got a bit of a boost today. A small British company, Cairn Energy, said it had struck oil for the first time off the coast of Greenland. It's too early to say whether this is a major find. Environmentalists, however, aren't happy. The Arctic has become a new battleground for them. They say, if there's a major spill in those icy waters, it'll take years to degrade. It'll be much, much worse environmentally than the Gulf of Mexico.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard reporting from London. Stephen, thanks.

BEARD: OK Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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