COPENHAGEN (dpa) – Seeking to demarcate its territory in light of increasing Arctic exploration, Denmark requested formal recognition Monday from the United Nations for an extended area of continental shelf.
In a move likely to stir disagreements with other Arctic coastal states – Canada, Norway, Russia and the United States – which have made their own claims to some of the same underwater areas, the Danish mission to the UN told dpa that it had submitted a proposal to a UN body in New York.
“The objective of this huge project is to define the outer limits of our continental shelf and thereby – ultimately – of the Kingdom of
Denmark,” Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lide-gaard said.
Denmark’s proposal covers a 895,541-square-kilometre area in the Arctic, 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from the northern coast of Greenland, and includes seabed under the North Pole.
Copenhagen said the joint submission with Greenland – which has a high degree of autonomy within Denmark – is to be filed with the Commis-sion on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a UN body that helps implement the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Lidegaard said he did not know when the CLCS would consider the submission.
When the UN commission issues a recom-mendation, the coastline states will likely have to negotiate bilateral delimitation agree-ments.
Environmental activist group Greenpeace said it was concerned over an emerging race to exploit potential untapped natural gas and oil reserves in the Arctic as the burning of fossil fuel drives global warming.
Christian Marcussen, who helped conduct the geological survey for Denmark’s submission, told news agency Ritzau that major finds of oil and gas in the area are unlikely, and would be very expensive to exploit.