Russia will invest some 1.5 billion rubles ($49.7 million) in defining the extent of its continental shelf in the Arctic in 2010, in order to prove its right to more of the Arctic floor, the country's Natural Resources Ministry has said.
"These funds will be spent on additional hydrographic and geophysical research in the Arctic Ocean," the ministry said in a statement.
Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice and make hydrocarbon deposits under the Arctic Ocean increasingly accessible. This has made the extent of the continental shelf a matter of national interest.
Under international law, each of the five Arctic Circle countries has a 322-kilometer (200-mile) exclusive economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.
However, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, if a country can show its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim rights to more of the ocean floor.
Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region.
The country first claimed the territory in 2001, but the United Nations demanded more evidence. Moscow was to submit its evidence to the UN by 2010.
President Dmitry Medvedev said at a Russian Security Council session in September 2008 that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible.
MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti)