Russia stakes claim to North Pole waters and deep-sea oil and gas

In the next few days, Russia plans to launch tiny submarines some 14,000 feet under the North Pole’s sea ice to take geological samples and gather data — the first such journey to carry people to the North Pole’s sea bed. And while the action seems innocuous and science-licious at first, Russia isn’t just exploring for the sake of exploration. The expedition has set out to prove that the ocean floor around the North Pole is a geologic extension of Russia and therefore essentially Russian property under the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea. If Russia can prove the geological link, and the U.N. confirms it, it would open more than 460,000 square miles of the Arctic shelf to Russian energy and minerals exploration. Experts estimate the area could contain as much as 10 billion tons of oil and gas. Other nations also claim a geological link to the Arctic, including Canada, the United States, and Denmark (via its territory of Greenland), and they’re none too pleased by Russia planting its flag at Santa’s homestead.