A spokesman for Bush said the US president listened to Harper about Canada's claim to the Northwest Passage - a waterway that offers increasing possibility of use as global warming melts the ice cover, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The US continues to claim the Northwest Passage to be international waters, though one of Bush's former ambassadors to Canada over the weekend said the passage would be better defended against terrorists if Canada were put in charge.
Bush came away with a 'far better understanding of Canada's position' but had not changed his view, Dan Fisk, director of western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council told reporters.
Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur, August 20, 2007
US and Canada split on Arctic seaway
(By Daina Lawrence, Financial Times, August 21 2007)
The US and Canada failed to agree on Tuesday on an Arctic sea route that could save thousands of miles in transport distances between Asia and the US east coast.
George W. Bush, US president, said that Washington regarded the Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic islands, which may become more accessible to shipping as polar sea ice melts, as an "international passageway". Canada argues that the route falls within its internal territorial waters.
But after meetings at the North American leaders' summit in Montebello, Quebec, Mr Bush and Stephen Harper, Canadian prime minister, said they would manage their differences over the issue. Mr Bush added that the US was not questioning Canada's sovereignty over its Arctic islands.
Competition between Canada, Denmark, Russia, Norway and the US over the Arctic has intensified in recent weeks after a Russian mission deposited a titanium flag on the Arctic seabed, in a largely symbolic claim.
The war in Afghanistan, border security and trade were among the main issues discussed by Mr Harper, Mr Bush and Mexico's president Felipe Calderón at this year's summit, before the Mexican leader headed home on Monday to deal with hurricane Dean.
Mr Bush said "serious consultations" must take place between the three governments on the issue of border security but added they were "working hard to get a plan ready".
Paul Cellucci, the former US ambassador to Canada, recently said it would benefit the US if Mr Bush accepted Canada's claim on the coveted Arctic seaway.
He argued that if the Northwest Passage is classified as being under Canadian jurisdiction it would improve security by requiring all those who entered the seaway to submit to Canadian laws.
Michael Byers, professor of international law at the University of British Columbia, said: "Mr Harper should seize the initiative when it comes to persuading the US government that something significant needs to be done." He said the passage was increasingly used for Arctic travel with 11 ships passing through the waterway in 2006.
Both Prof Byers and Mr Cellucci say the solution is for Ottawa to assure the US it is going the extra mile to defend the interests of both countries, including stepping up Canadian security measures and having environmental regulations in place for shipping companies wishing to use the passage.
Mr Harper this month announced plans for a C$100m deepwater facility near the Northwest Passage and a military training centre in Resolute, Nunavut.
Cool Arctic sovereignty rhetoric: scientists
Russian Arctic expectations exaggerated
(Barents Observer, August 24, 2007)
Russian politicians say the country legitimately can claim 1,2 million square kilometres of the Arctic shelf. Now, researchers give another picture. -Russia has not the technology to determine the adherence of the shelf, and will hardly get more than 10-20 percent of the area, they say.
The last weeks, a number of noted Russian federal officials and politicians, including the President, have commented on Russian claims in the Artic. Russia has the right to get at least 1,2 million square kilometres, they claim. Yesterday, Russian news agencies even reported that researchers have evidence that the so-called Lomonosov Ridge is "not isolated from the Russian mainland".
Now, the real researchers give the real picture. According to newspaper Kommersant, only deep drilling into the sea bottom will be able to determine the shelf structure, and Russia does currently not possess the technology to conduct such operations.
According to Leopold Lobkovskii, deputy head of the Russian Institute of Oceanology, Russia can only get firm evidence about the shelf if deep drilling operations down to 7000 meters are made. He says however that Russia does currently not possess the technology for such operations. According to the researcher, Japan is one of few countries which have a ship able to do the drilling.
Mr. Lobkovskii adds that even if Russia will be able to get the deep sea drilling results, the country should not expect to get 1,2 million square meters of the shelf. As a matter of fact, Russia can only expect to get a 350 miles belt along its northern coast, he says.
A Treaty Whose Time Has Come
German foreign minister on Arctic mission
(Barents Observer, August 27, 2007)
Together with a 50-person business delegation, Frank-Walter Steinmeier today started a two-day visit to northern Norway. The visit must be seen as signal of a stronger German interest in the High North.
Mr. Steinmeier also last March visited northern Norway, and then also went to Statoil's Melkøya gas plant on the Barents Sea coast.
Accompanied by his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Støre, Mr. Steinmeier and the German business representatives will visit the town of Tromsø and the Spitsbergen archipelago. The visit is a follow-up of the Norwegian-German energy dialogue and must be seen in the light of the ever stronger international focus on the region.
According to NRK Radio, climate and environment is on the agenda together with energy issues. The Arctic is believed to hide as much as 25 percent of remaining hydrocarbon reserves, and a number of countries, among them also Germany, look at the region as a possible new petroleum province.
The German delegation will take part in an energy workshop in Tromsø and visit research stations in Longyearbyen and Ny-Ålesund at Spitsbergen.
For Germany, Norway and Russia are the two most important energy suppliers. In the Barents Sea, the neighboring Norway and Russia will jointly face the combination of oil and gas extraction, environmental challenges and climate changes. At the same time, Germany is likely to be the most important importer of the energy from the Barents Sea.
North Atlantic nations call on EU to focus on Arctic
(By Helena Spongenberg, EU Observer, August 27, 2007)
North Atlantic nations are calling on the European Union to pay more attention to the Arctic by recommending the creation of an Arctic information office and an Arctic delegation from the European Parliament.
The West Nordic Council agreed to a motion last week, calling upon Brussels to focus more closely on the Arctic region both within the EU system and in its interaction with the rest of the world, reports Greenland newspaper Webavisen.gl.
The council, founded in 1985, is a cooperation forum of the parliaments and governments of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland.
The forum believes that the EU should have an information office where information about the Arctic and its situation is collected and taken into consideration when making decisions in Brussels.
EU attention on the Arctic region has increased recently, as Greenland in particular has become a showcase for the effects of global warming, with Commission president Jose Manual Barroso and German chancellor Angela Merkel both having visited the country this summer.
The race to control the Arctic region has also intensified after Russia planted flag four kilometres (2.5 miles) below the North Pole earlier this month. The effects of global warming are thought to be shrinking the polar ice cap and could lead to new shipping lanes linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as new access to oil.
The Nordic Council, which also includes Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the West Nordic council, agreed in June to arrange a conference next year on the "Arctic window" in the EU's Northern Dimension - an EU initiative seeking to address the specific challenges and opportunities arising in the Nordic countries, Baltic states and Russia.
The U.S. Geological Survey USGS released today an assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province, suggesting that there may be a large amount to be discovered. Although there are no proven reserves in northeastern Greenland, significant undiscovered resource potential exists.
Because of the great potential of the Arctic, the USGS has undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the area in order to provide consistent and comparable geologically based estimates of the potential additions to world oil and gas reserves. Northeastern Greenland is the prototype for the USGS Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal, and the USGS will be releasing assessments of all the Arctic provinces over the next year.
The USGS estimates the mean undiscovered, conventional petroleum resources in the province to be approximately 31.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent of oil, gas, and natural gas liquids. In comparison to the world´s 500 other oil and gas provinces, if this resource is proved and realized, northeastern Greenland would rank 19th.
(Wandel Sea is located at the northeastern coast of Greenland.)
Viking invaders turned back from our shores
Canada's border agency orders two members of Nordic adventure crew to be deported after misleading RCMP
September 1, 2007
Fuelled by a desire for adventure and a significant amount of alcohol, a group of young men calling themselves the Norwegian Wild Vikings have sailed through the icy waters of the Arctic and Antarctic.
They have come face to face with polar bears and have annoyed giant walruses - poking them with their horned Viking hats.
They have navigated their small sailboat - which is painted to look like a shark and is called the Berserk II - through dangerous, iceberg-filled waters.
But the Norwegian Wild Vikings were no match for the Canada Border Services Agency.
According to a report from CBC News, two members of the Wild Vikings were ordered deported Thursday after their captain admitted that he hid a crew member from the RCMP while in Nunavut.
The deportation decision was reportedly made at a hearing Thursday in Cambridge Bay.
The two men ordered deported were identified as Captain Jarle Andhoy and Jeffrey Kane.
Mr. Andhoy raised the sensitive issue of Arctic sovereignty in explaining why he did not feel it was necessary to let Canadian officials know of their plans to sail the Northwest Passage.
"We are not here to visit Canada. We are here to do a transit to the Pacific," Mr. Andhoy was quoted as telling CBC News. "We're sailing the Northwest Passage and as far as I'm concerned the Northwest Passage is international."
Canada maintains that all waters in between the Arctic islands are part of Canada. However, most other countries argue that everything beyond 12 nautical miles from the island shores is international waters.
According to the CBC report, a crew member of the Wild Vikings had previously been ordered deported when the crew stopped in Halifax earlier this year. Canada had deported the man, and arrested another, claiming they were associates of the Hell's Angels. The Vikings' own website appears to confirm that association.
Mr. Andhoy admitted to CBC that he later picked up the deported crewmate in Greenland and dropped him off on land in Nunavut before docking at Gjoa Haven and Cambridge Bay. The report said criminal charges were pending.
Through the group's website and its videos posted on YouTube, the young Vikings broadcast their tales of adventure and misadventure.
Though their videos have beautiful shots of polar wildlife, it's a far cry from the Discovery Channel. They film themselves drinking on board with the Russian Coast Guard. They also film the aftereffects of drinking in less exotic urban locales. Drunken arguments in a cab over whether to hit the Pita Pit or to pick up a slice of pizza were deemed worthy of filming and sharing by the Vikings.
Through a "captain's log," the Vikings blog about their current trip, which started in Cuba and passed by the Statue of Liberty in New York.
"But here - upon entering Canada - everything went horribly wrong," the blog reads. "First, 13 heavily armed police officers and customs agents boarded the Berserk with a mission. Immediately they arrested Super, the expedition's mechanic, and tossed him in jail due to his membership in Norway's Hell's Angels ... Two days after Super was arrested, the police returned - but not with answers. This time they arrested Fred the cook."
WILD VIKINGS' MISSION STATEMENT
"The crew onboard Berserk II wish to pick up the old Norsemen traditions as opposed to today's so-called "civilized" and often artificial way of living. Instead of being a part of the PlayStation generation, in a 7-4 life with computers, electrical tin openers and washing machines, they seek adventures and exploration in the spirit of the ancient Vikings. Simply equipped on a low budget, the Wild Vikings turn the time back to the old days when men were men. Back to basics. Back to nature in harmony with its simple and real beauty to the world's remote corners."
Source: Wild Vikings website
Russian bombers on Arctic mission
(Associated Press, September 03 2007)
Russian long-range bombers began a two-day exercise Monday over the Arctic that will include firing cruise missiles, an Air Force spokesman said, according to the Interfax news agency.
The move follows last month's announcement by President Vladimir Putin that Russian bombers were resuming long-range training missions over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, the first time such flights were held since the Soviet Union's collapse.
Such flights can take the planes to points from which nuclear-tipped cruise missiles could be fired at the United States.
Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky's statement did not specify to what areas of the Arctic the Tu-95 "Bear" bombers would be flying, but he said the exercise would involve mid-air refueling and cruise missile firing. Military officials previously have said the bombers do not carry nuclear-armed weapons on the training flights.
The flights, and Russia's recent land exercises with China, underline a growing sense of confidence in the military, which is recovering from the severe money problems suffered during the early post-Soviet years.