MOSCOW—The Arctic is emerging as the world’s next hot spot for oil and gas development. As the melting ice cap opens new shipping lanes and makes it easier to access strategic energy reserves, countries are racing to gain control over the Arctic’s abundant natural resources.
In a report, Dmitri Trenin and Pavel Baev offer a view from Moscow on what the opening of the Arctic means. While there is a strong desire to compete over the resources in order to meet increasing energy demands, Trenin and Baev argue that all countries—with Russia in a leading role—can benefit more through cooperation.
- Sizable energy reserves. The Arctic potentially contains 20 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves. The Arctic territory claimed by Russia could be home to twice the volume of Saudi Arabia’s oil resources.
- Warmer climate. The Arctic’s ice is melting and over time Russia’s Northern Sea Route—linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans—could become commercially profitable.
- Chance for cooperation. Russia should help bring other Arctic countries together—notably Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States—to manage the area peacefully and focus on its economic benefits.
“As countries around the globe continue to rely on a dwindling number of oil and gas reserves to serve their energy needs, the Arctic territory—parts of which remain unclaimed—will continue to be an area of intense geopolitical interest,” Trenin and Baev write. “Russia’s role in fostering either goodwill or rivalry will have implications for countries far from the Arctic’s icy waters.”
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been with the Center since its inception. He retired from the Russian Army in 1993. From 1993-1997, Trenin held posts as a Senior Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Europe in Moscow. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces from 1972 to 1993, including experience working as a liaison officer in the External Relations Branch of the Group of Soviet Forces (stationed in Potsdam) and as a staff member of the delegation to the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms talks in Geneva from 1985 to 1991. He also taught at the war studies department of the Military Institute from 1986 to 1993.
The Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Program has, since the end of the Cold War, led the field on Eurasian security, including strategic nuclear weapons and nonproliferation, development, economic and social issues, governance, and the rule of law.
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