EU's Solana warns of superpower oil rush in Arctic

The melting of the North Pole's ice caps under the impact of global warming could spark a dangerous geo-political oil rush in the Arctic, the European Union's top foreign-policy official warned Thursday. ( dpa )

"The increased accessibility of the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic region is changing the geo-strategic dynamics of the region with potential consequences for international stability and European security interests," EU High Representative Javier Solana wrote in a presentation to EU leaders.

The growing strategic pressure in the region is "illustrated by the recent planting of the Russian flag under the North Pole" and it "challenges Europe's ability to effectively secure its trade and resource interests in the region," Solana wrote.

In recent years the rapid warming of the Arctic environment has driven the pack ice farther north than ever before, opening up new maritime routes around the north of Europe, Asia and North America and making new territories open to mineral exploitation. The most striking example came on August 2, when a Russian submarine dropped a Russian flag on the sea-bed under the North Pole in a bid to lay claim to the territory.

But that claim is strongly contested by the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway - all states with a strong Arctic presence.

"There is an increasing need to address the growing debate over territorial claims," Solana's paper said.

The EU should act as swiftly as possible to develop a coherent Arctic policy, taking into account issues such as access to resources and the opening of new trade routes, the paper said.

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