Bloomberg reports that "Russia, Denmark and Canada all are trying to prove that their land masses extend to the North Pole, handing the international commission that gives its expert recommendations on such matters its most highly contested issue to date and highlighting the central role the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea will have in determining the future of the rapidly changing region."
"The polar region's global status has risen as it has shed its ice cover at a rate of 46,100 square kilometers per year since 1981, with summer sea ice loss accelerating over the past decade in terms of ice extent and thickness. Winter ice extent is also at historically low levels, with 2014 marking the fourth-lowest February ice extent in the satellite record, 910,000 kilometers below the 1981 to 2010 average, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center."
The piece continues: "A finding by the commission that a country's continental shelf extends to the North Pole is limited to granting that country exclusive jurisdiction to develop any resources in the sea bed."
"The Arctic Ocean is estimated to hold up to 20 percent of the world's undiscovered and recoverable oil and natural gas, including an estimated 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas liquids, most of which lies beneath less than 500 meters of water, according to the widely cited U.S. Geological Survey review of 2008. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment estimates that the Russian Arctic continental shelf contains 76 billion tons of oil equivalent."