Race for Arctic oil heats up

A Canadian Navy Zodiac races across the Arctic Ocean on patrol last week. Canada will build its first Arctic deep-sea port to bolster its disputed claims to the famed Northwest Passage and Arctic seabed, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper on August 10.

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Scott Jagow: Over the weekend, a team of Danish scientists boarded a ship for the Arctic Ocean. They'll spend a month mapping the region for potential oil reserves. Sam Eaton has more from our Sustainability Desk.


Sam Eaton: The Danish expedition trails Russia, which planted its flag in the North Pole seabed a few weeks back. Even the U.S. has sent an icebreaker to the arctic to map claims.

Climate change is shedding this vast, frozen sea in a new light. As the ice melts, access is becoming easier.

And with projections that the Arctic seafloor could hold as much as 25 percent of the world's untapped oil reserves, the stakes couldn't be any higher. George Newton is the former head of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

George Newton: The basic essence is oil and what countries want and oil companies want before they begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean is an element of certainty provided by a host country having a claim to the resources on the bottom and sub-bottom.

Proving that claim isn't easy. Under a UN treaty, Arctic nations like Denmark and Russia have to show that the seabed is a geologic extension of their existing territories.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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