Amid Competing Territorial Claims, Canada Launches Mission To North Pole

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The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen is pictured in Allen Bay in Resolute, Nunavut August 25, 2010.

Canada dispatched a ship to explore its northern seabed and the Arctic Ocean as a part of a scientific mission to bolster its territorial claims on oil and natural gas-rich areas around the North Pole, BBC reported Saturday.

A Canadian ice-breaker set sail from Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday and will be followed by another vessel on Saturday.

The six week mission will analyze data collected from the Lomonosov Ridge, which is an undersea ridge that starts near the Ellesmere Island -- the northernmost Canadian Island -- and extends towards the North Pole.  Norway, Denmark and Russia have also laid claims on the region believed to hold nearly 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil deposits and 30 percent of its hidden natural gas reserves.

Denmark has reportedly claimed that the ridge is an extension Greenland while Russia has stated that it is an underwater extension of the Russian continental shelf.

“As demonstrated by these planned surveys, our government is committing the resources necessary to ensure that Canada secures international recognition of the full extent of its continental shelf, including the North Pole,” John Baird, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister said in a statement on Friday.

In December last year, Canada filed an application with the United Nations, seeking to expand its Atlantic sea boundary to include the Lomonosov ridge and areas near the North Pole. In 2001, Russia had also staked its claim on the region in an official submission to the U.N. demanding a revision of the outer limits of its continental shelf.

Leona Aglukkaq, the Canadian Environment Minister, said in a statement that the mission was aimed at securing Canada’s sovereignty by defining its borders. “This is important to Canadians, especially those in the North, as this is their future and prosperity at stake.”

The Canadian government said a second survey to collect additional data will also be conducted in 2015.

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