Canada Burnishes Its Position as Arctic Power

Canada has made several recent moves that show the fact that Canada seeks to establish itself as an Arctic power. The country’s government recently bolstered its presence in the Arctic which, with increasingly warm weather, has become increasingly accessible. The promise of rich resources such as oil and natural gas has pushed Canada to try to take more control over its northern waterways. The Canadian government has, in recent months, made its Arctic territory a location for official visits, as well as military exercises taking place both above and below water. This came at roughly the same time as an incident in which Russian bombers were chased away by Canadian fighter jets because they had flown a little too close to the border of Canadian aerospace.

Canadian Arctic Coast

Many of the nations that have a foothold in the Arctic have been researching various areas of the ocean floor and continental shelves, which have shown that they may contain a huge amount of natural resources. In fact, the Arctic may contain as much as one third of the total undiscovered oil in the entire world. The extension of continental shelves has caused some confrontation between countries, with a dispute regarding which country an area of the Arctic Sea rich in natural resources belongs to. Canada and Russia have both laid claim to the land, although Norway has urged both countries to settle the dispute and lower tension.

Canada and Denmark are also working to resolve several old disputes regarding territory for fishing and oil development. Lawrence Cannon, the Foreign Affairs Minister for Canada, revealed Canada’s first Arctic foreign policy statement, which is designed to settle existing boundary disputes and claims to offshore territory. The United States Geological Survey has estimated that a large proportion of the world’s gas and oil reserves lie above the Arctic Circle, making the economics stakes in this territory quite high.

Canadian Tundra

A number of bids for exploration of natural gas and oil reserves within the Arctic reached record levels in June of 2008, with one for over one billion dollars. Many countries with a hold in the area, such as Canada and Russia, have been expending a lot of effort and resources to map the ocean floor. Russia has announced that it has begun a project to create a new Arctic atlas, which will include notations for areas of the Arctic that could be potentially dangerous to the companies working there.