U.S., Canada to Delineate Arctic Shelf Limits

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"Outer limits of Arctic shelf may contain vast oil and gas reserves."

The United States said Monday it will work with Canada in the next few weeks to delineate the outer limits of the Arctic's continental shelf, a region believed to contain vast oil and gas reserves.

U.S. and Canadian coast guard ships will map the shape of the disputed area's seafloor and determine sediment thickness as part of a survey from August 7 to September 3, the U.S. State Department said.

"The mission will help delineate the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean for the U.S. and Canada," it said in a statement.

It "will also include the collection of data in the disputed area where the U.S. and Canada have not agreed to a maritime boundary," it said.

"Coastal States have sovereign rights over the natural resources of their continental shelves," it said.

"Both the U.S. and Canada will be collecting scientific information to satisfy the criteria for delineating the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles as set forth in the Convention on the Law of the Sea," it added.

It said the 2010 continental shelf survey mission will cover regions over the Canada Basin, the Beaufort Shelf and the Alpha Mendeleev Ridge.

The United States, Canada and three other Arctic States—Denmark, Norway and Russia—have sought to bolster regional cooperation amid concerns of a military buildup and opposition to the tapping of its rich resources.

Interest in the region has soared as the ice melts.

The U.S. Geological Survey said in 2008 that within the Arctic circle there are 90 billion barrels of oil and vast quantities of natural gas waiting to be tapped, most of it offshore.

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