Clinton boarded a research ship in Tromso, a Norwegian town north of the Arctic Circle, to illustrate U.S. interests in a once inaccessible region where resources are up now for grabs and new sea routes between Europe and Asia are opening up.
“A lot of countries are looking at what will be the potential for exploration and extraction of natural resources as well as new sea lanes,” Clinton told reporters after taking a two-hour boat tour of the local fjord.
In the middle of an eight-day trip to Scandinavia, the Caucasus and Turkey, Clinton said it was important to agree on “rules of the road in the Arctic so new developments are economically sustainable and environmentally responsible.”
On a blustery morning under mostly grey skies, Clinton and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere stood on the deck of the “Helmer Hanssen” research vessel and gazed at the fjord’s pristine waters and surrounding snow-covered mountains.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that, beneath its unspoilt natural scenery, the Arctic holds about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas.
As ice melts with climate change, Arctic sea passages are also opening for longer periods each year, potentially cutting thousands of miles off trade routes between Europe and Asia.
Stoere described the Arctic as “a region which used to be frozen both politically and climatically, and now there is a thaw.”
Key policies governing the Arctic are enshrined in the UN Law of the Sea Treaty, which the United States has not ratified.
The Obama administration is making a fresh push to ratify the treaty, which gives the five coastal Arctic nations rights to exclusive economic zones 200 nautical miles from their coasts and lays out how they may claim areas beyond that limit.
Critics of the ratification say it would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.
Policies are also debated in the Arctic Council, an advisory body made up of the Arctic coastal states – Canada, Denmark, which handles foreign affairs for Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States – along with Finland, Iceland and Sweden.
Other nations, including China, South Korea and Japan, want to become permanent observers to the council, illustrating the region’s importance because of its estimated energy resources and its potential as a new shipping route.
But here is the REAL STORY...
Shell Oil Rigs -- The First to Explore the Arctic Ocean in Decades -- Delayed by Sea Ice
“The heaviest polar ice in more than a decade could postpone the start of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean until the beginning of August,” says this article on phys.org.
“A high pressure zone over the coast of Alaska, low winter temperatures and certain ocean currents have combined to bring unusually large amounts of ice not only to Alaska’s northern coast, but farther south in the Bering Sea as well, National Weather Service officials said...Read More
Seattle, Washington —
Rival Vessels are both sitting in the Port of Seattle tonight (Saturday).
And both are on the verge of an historic mission.
The first of those vessels consists of 2 unique drilling rigs -- refurbished by Shell Oil.
They are the Kuluk and the Noble Disocverer. If all goes as planned, then both vessels will enter the Chukchi Sea next month. They will beome the first rigs in more than 2 decades to conduct exploratory drilling there.
as planned, then both vessels will enter the Chukchi Sea next month. They will beome the first rigs in more than 2 decades to conduct exploratory drilling there.
So much oil is thought to be trapped beneath the seabed of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, that it's hoped that within the next decade or 2, it will add a million barrels a day to the flow of the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
The other vessel -- which is determined to rewrite science, if not history, is the Greanpeace Ship, Esperanza.
It's carrying 2 scientific research submarines. It's goal is to study the Chukchi -- even as shell's drilling there gets underway.
Greenpeace contends there is not enough baseline data in arctic seas. It is determined to record that data before those seas are fully drilled.
The environmental organization's concern is that much could be lost by what it calls the "industrialization of the Arctic".