In an article posted by the New York Times the recent interest in Arctic resources was highlighted. Because Arctic ice is melting, valuable resources are being uncovered. The attitude toward Arctic nations is changing with wealthy, powerful countries giving more attention to these now resource rich nations.
“We are treated so differently than just a few years ago,” said Jens B. Frederiksen, Greenland’s vice premier, in his simple office here. “We are aware that is because we now have something to offer, not because they’ve suddenly discovered that Inuit are nice people.”
The resources uncovered are rare earth metals valuable for technology in the cell phone and military industries.More than 20% of the worlds oil and gas reserves are in the Arctic. These reserves are becoming more readily available as the drilling season continues to lengthen. Shell began arctic drilling this August in Alaska, the first time in 20 years a US drilling company drilled in this particular region.
“I will be one of those persons most cheering for an endless summer in Alaska”
-Peter E. Slaiby, vice president of Shell Alaska
However, after only a few months of drilling Shell was forced to change drilling plans. One of the drilling domes was damaged so the company changed locations and the type of drilling for the time. The company had planned to drill deep wells for oil but is instead going to do exploratory drilling elsewhere. This means no drilling by Shell off of the Alaskan coast will occur this year as expected.
As the possibility of gaining resources from these previously barren lands becomes reality, many nations are haggling over land rights to the Arctic region. Next month the Arctic Council will vote on which countries will be granted permanent observer status (the right to participate in the council)- many are anxious to hear the decision that the council makes on China and their rights to involvement.