Russia Makes a Move for Arctic Oil

by William Yeatman on September 18, 2008

The international struggle to assert sovereignty over oil and gas rich Arctic waters heated up this week after Russian President Dimitri Medvedev suggested that the Federal Security Service (FSS) draw a formal border around Russia’s claimed territory. The Arctic is thought to hold 80 billion barrels of oil and up to 20 percent of the world’s natural gas deposits, but it is unclear which countries control what in the region. Under international law, each country is entitled to control an economic zone within 200 miles of its continental shelf, but the limits of the shelf are disputed, and Russia, the United States, Norway, Canada, and Denmark have made competing claims. In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin created the Arctic Directorate within the FSS (the successor to the KGB) to further Russia’s claim to over 460,000 square miles of the mineral-rich territory.

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