Denmark and Greenland have submitted a claim for 62,000 square kilometres of Arctic sea floor, reports Politiken newspaper.
The claim is the fourth of five that Denmark is expected to submit before a deadline in 2014 – ten years after signing the UN Convention of the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) – which in total could expand Denmark’s territory by around a million square kilometres.
Currently, the territory of the six nations bordering the Arctic Sea (Denmark, Canada, Russia, Norway, USA and Iceland) extends 200 nautical miles into the sea, an area which makes up their exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
But states can extend their rights over the sea floor to a distance of 350 nautical miles from their shore if they can demonstrate that their continental shelf extends beyond the 200 nautical mile EEZ.
While the extended rights do not include fishing, they do cover whatever is found on, or beneath, the seafloor – the latest claim is near to already-discovered oil deposits off Greenland’s east coast.
Denmark’s claims – that are being made together with Greenland and the Faroe Islands – will not go unchallenged, however.
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Long wait for verdict
Politiken reports that other Arctic nations, have also submitted claims that overlap Denmark’s and with around 50 cases currently being processed, they may have to wait until 2019 for a verdict.
Arctic oil is a hot topic, and a Danish Greenpeace activist, Anne Mie Roer Jensen, was among 30 arrested for attempting to board a Russian oil rig in the Arctic ocean to raise awareness of the potential environmental dangers – she was released on bail earlier in November.
Denmark remains conflicted about the Arctic. Despite heavily endorsing renewable energy and carbon reduction, its budget is heavily dependent on the billions of kroner in revenue derived from taxes on North Sea oil.