Friday, April 09, 2010

Your daily Arctic sovereignty fix

Well, for a few days anyway and as events warrant and because it's kind of fun...

A few points to follow up on that post yesterday, on Canada's launch of our latest Arctic sovereignty exercise. A helpful reader noted that if there is to be a parade up there at CFS Alert, it bears mentioning that there are only 5 permanent residents in Alert. There are a bunch of temporary residents who staff the Forces base, the weather station, the airport, etc., but really, it's going to have to be all hands on deck for that parade to be a success and provide propaganda worthy photo-op moments. Perhaps this is why the government types have been invited:
...Nunavut government officials will be in attendance, most notably the Premier of Nunavut, The Honourable Eva Aariak, the Minister of Environment and Minister of Human Resources, Minister Daniel Shewchuk, and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Quttiktuq region, Mr. Ron Elliot. Mary Simon, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami will also be participating in the closing events.
Did you catch the last participant? Perhaps a sign of things to come, a future Governor General in training?

Also note that the parade in Alert allows us to hold an event as close as we possibly can on Canadian soil to the North Pole, you know, perhaps to send a message to the Russkies who are hanging out there of late. Alert is only 500 miles from the North Pole:

Are we putting on a parade in our northernmost point to send a political message? You betcha:)

Meanwhile, in another interesting and slightly more important development, Obama's offshore drilling plans include a site off the coast of Alaska that happens to be in waters claimed by both the U.S. and Canada. That's something we haven't heard much about yet on our end and something worth hearing a little more about. What with all the potential for spills and such up there. Here's the U.S. government estimate in respect of the areas opened up:
The MMS estimates of undiscovered, economically recoverable resources for the Alaska OCS areas proposed for EIS scoping are: Beaufort Sea: 2-7 billion barrels of oil and 3-20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; Chukchi Sea: 0.15-12 billion barrels of oil and 0.5-54 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; Cook Inlet: 0.7-1 billion barrels of oil and 0.9-1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
2-7 billion barrels in the Beaufort Sea? See map above. Could be a problem:
The much-anticipated but controversial transformation of the Arctic Ocean into a new global treasure house of oil and gas is a step closer with the U.S. government moving Wednesday to open that country's offshore areas -- including the Beaufort Sea, subject of a boundary dispute with Canada -- to more intensive petroleum development.
"The opening of large tracts of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas to oil and gas drilling increases the pressure on Canada and the United States to resolve their Arctic sovereignty disputes," University of B.C. professor Michael Byers said. "At least 20,000 square kilometres of the Beaufort Sea is contested -- and perhaps much more."
That particular boundary dispute is sounding a little more urgent to resolve. Maybe a little more diplomacy might be in order alongside all the parade arranging. Just a thought. How the Harper government reacts to this move, weighing energy interests and the environment, bears watching.

(h/t Massachusetts)