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Russia's great white north oil grab

TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't need a hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine, this weekend — he'll be staying at Bush family estate. The president might be asking about Russia's new claim to annex a big chunk of the Arctic Ocean. Jill Barshay reports bringing up Russia's North Pole ambition might not be the best icebreaker:

Jill Barshay: Russian scientists say Siberia is connected to a huge underwater ridge that runs under the North Pole as far as Greenland.

Don Gautier is a U.S. Geological Survey chief. He's looking at how much oil and gas lie beneath the Arctic Ocean.

He doesn't think anyone will find much oil or gas under the Lomonosov Ridge, but he says both the Danes, who rule Greenland, and the Russians are still fighting over the territory.

Don Gautier: They would like to have a great influence on ship movements or siting of pipelines. Even if you didn't find oil and gas on Lomonosov Ridge, if you controlled the movement of people and things across that part of the Arctic, than that would be worth something, huh?

The Arctic Ocean is supposed to be international territory. But the U.S. can't challenge Russia's claim. Washington has frozen itself out by refusing to ratify a treaty that governs international waters.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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