As Arctic Ice Melts, U.S. Competes for Oil, Gold and other Resources
Friday, May 13, 2011
(photo: Susanne Miller, USFWS)
With Arctic ice receding due to global warming, American officials have been cozying up to Greenland, where future oil and mineral deposits may become available to exploration.
State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the U.S. and other industrial nations are jockeying to “carve up” Arctic resources in the coming years.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Greenland territory may sit atop oil reserves as large as those in the North Sea. The Arctic Circle could contain 90 billion barrels of oil, about 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
Greenland is an autonomous territory belonging to Denmark. But the U.S. believes Greenland is headed for independence, presenting “a unique opportunity” for American gas and oil companies to make money.
Scientists have found that Arctic ice is melting faster than had been anticipated, leading various countries and companies to accelerate their plans for commercial exploitation. In addition to oil and natural gas, mining companies have their eyes on aluminum, iron ore, gold and rubies. There is also talk of opening a Northern Sea route between Europe and Asia that would be faster than going through the Suez Canal.
Representatives of the eight Arctic Council nations—the United State, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland—met this week in Nuuk, Greenland, to discuss the future of the region. The battle for control of Arctic resources was considered important enough for President Barack Obama to send two members of his cabinet to the meeting: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. They were accompanied by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
WikiLeaks Cables Show Race to Carve Up Arctic (by Meirion Jones and Susan Watts, BBC News)
State Department Cables (WikiLeaks)
Melting Arctic Opens Profit Opportunities for Oil, Gold, Tourism (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
U.S. Navy Prepares for Militarization of the Arctic (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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