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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Global Warming Sparks a Scramble for Black Gold Under Retreating Ice - by David Adam

A Look at The "Positive Side" of Global Warming --pseudolus
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Unlike the Antarctic continent spread around the south pole, the Arctic has no formal international treaty to regulate activities. And while howling winds, drifting icebergs and months of freezing darkness kept prospecters at bay, there was little activity to regulate.
 
But as global warming thaws the ocean's icy layer, oil giants, shipping companies and even the odd enterprising tourist operator are casting their eyes towards the high north.
 
Last August a Russian vessel, the Akademik Fyodorov, became the first to reach the north pole without an icebreaker - one of seven ships to make it to the top of the world last year. This summer, Russian icebreakers aim to go one better and take paying guests, for �17,000 each. If the ice continues to thin and shrink as expected, then within a few decades cruise liners, container ships and tankers could all head over the pole, shaving thousands of miles off their voyages across the globe.
 
The biggest boom could be oil and gas. The US Geological Survey surprised some experts when it declared that a quarter of the world's undiscovered reserves lay under the Arctic Ocean. As the ice retreats, oil companies are scrambling to open a new frontier.
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