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031813 Arctic Sovereignty.docx

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Ryerson University
GEO 605
David Atkinson

GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North 031813 Arctic Sovereignty • The Canadian Arctic is in a state of massive transformation through climate change o Climate change affects physical attributes (the ecosystem) it also reworks how we operate in the north • Perception/Reality of o Increased accessibility  Yes, but not necessarily the same everywhere o Oil and gas reserves  What we know and how much is actually there • Potential for new tensions/insecurities; but could also create new opportunities o The way we have treated the north, seen as the region in Canada, comes down to how we manage it and control it o In the past, we thought of it as not a threat; therefore no need for patrol or infrastructure o With the changes, we need to have a different attitude of the north CHANGES TO SEA ICE • Compare sea ice concentration in September 1979 and 2003 o September is the month in which sea ice is at its yearly minimum and 1979 marks the first year that data of this kind became available in meaningful form • The fact is that the north is changing dramatically • Ice begins to fracture more because it is no longer connected to land (nothing holding it together) o Currents and water further breaks up the ice • Lost multi-year ice and large quantity of fresh water o Yearly ice is more salty and the warmer arctic water because it does not regulate currents SCIENCE IS WRONG • Arctic ice summer extent loss compared to IPCC projections • Arctic ice extent loss to September 2007 compared to IPCC modeled changes uses the SRES A2 CO2 • As of 2008, the NWP southern route has been navigable for a record 3 consecutive years o And the northern deep draft channel has been navigable throughout its length for the 2 years in recorded history • Polar route where ships are able to travel directly straight up north; saving hours and money in term of fuel o Shipping companies are trying to speed up the navigations by breaking up lighter ice CLIMATE CHANGE AND ECONOMIES • Land based resource production (mining, oil and gas) o Increased challenges; melting permafrost  Melting permafrost increases costs of infrastructure o Regulatory issues and delays  Creates more challenges for business from environmental standpoint and must gain approval from federal government and First Nations government • Marine based resource production o Decreased sea ice o Increased access and transportation • Marine transportation o New entries into this market (i.e. shipping companies) o Safety, securities, sustainability, sovereignty  Responsibility of international countries to protect the water GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North • Fishing o New stock o New international pressures  Concerns when foreign fishing companies fish in our waters because there are no defined boundaries OIL AND GAS IN THE ARCTIC • Area north of the Arctic Circle has an estimated 90billion barrels of undiscovered oil o Not 100% known probability of finding resources • Arctic accounts for 13% of undiscovered oil, 30% of undiscovered natural gas, 20% of undiscovered natural gas liquids • Canada has the potential for huge stocks of oil and gas HISTORICAL RESERVES • The 1950s, increasing exploration and study by the oil and gas industry and the Geological Survey of Canada o Discovered the natural gas in the Mackenzie Delta • Three major events spurred exploration to the next level o 1967 – partnership between government and industry resulted in the formation of Panarctic Oils LTD  Created a company between federal government and a few independent companies o 1968 – huge oil field was discovered on Alaska’s north slope, at Prudhole Bay o Oil shortage in 1973 was additional  Due to oil exporting nations were regulating production where gas price shot up and fear of shortage • Reason to find North American sources of petroleum o September 11, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, political intentions in Middle East; not the ideal place NA wants to look for oil o Most energy production in USA and China is burning coil (produces more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases)  Pressures to shift energy production to domestic market  China is a major stakeholder in most oil sand productions  If we do not build pipelines to the south, the US will get the oil somewhere else and we will redirect the pipelines somewhere else to new buyers MELVILLE ISLAND • 8.7 trillion cubic feet – high quality o Biggest discovery of huge oil reserves at drake point and Rea point • Drake Point – it struck gas in sandstone, but the gas pressure was so great the well blew out of control o The blowing gas and salt water created a spectacular ice cone 61m high o Field is the largest in the arctic islands, with at least 99 billion cubic meters of gas • There are already plans to extract the natural gas; connecting pipelines from Mackenzie Delta pipeline o Gateway to northern energy o Initial environmental assessment of Mackenzie Delta only looks at initial plan but does not take into consideration of future uses of the pipeline  The larger development picture NEW RESERVES: US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY ARCTIC 2008 • To determine the sources of traditional energy supplies • No consideration of non-traditional energy (i.e. gas hydrates) o Requires more processes to extract • Main findings GEO605 Geography of the Canadian North o 30% of undiscovered Natural Gas in Arctic o 13% of undiscovered Oil in Arctic NEW OIL AND GAS ACTIVITY – NORTH AMERICA • Exxon/Modil, Imperial – Canadian Beaufort Sea/Mackenzie Delta: $585 million five years 2008-2013 o Extended to 2015 and increased costs o This is only for exploration • BP – Canadian Beaufort Sea/Mackenzie Delta: $1.2 billion • Continued debate over gas pipelines • In Russia, after the collaps of the Soviet Union, they began exploration into their oilsands and decreasing costs of military NORTHERN GOVERNANCE – (WHERE TO DRAW BORDERS AND WHO GETS TO DO WHAT WITHIN THEM) • United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea – UNCLOS o ARTICLE 76 – borders can be expanded based on a complex set of criteria that define the contour, seafloor geology and sediment thickness, as well as distance for the coastline • “desktop analysis” has shown that the application of Arctic 76 of UNCLOS provides an extended shelf in the Canadian part of the Arctic Ocean o Mapping sea floors using icebreakers in order to apply for extension of sea floor as part of Canadian land o In the process of submitting application for extended boundaries to the United Nations • Canada use to have a strong ship building industry but we are not capitalizing on manufacturing and shipbuilding NEW GEOPOLITICS OF THE NORTH • Russia o Renewed assertiveness (more money because of oil extraction) o Petrodollars o Reenergizing the military for exploration and extraction in the north • United States o Multi-lateral reluctance/emerging concern to act o International role as remaining superpower • Norway o Refocus of north (increasing military because of concern of Russians increasing military) o Gro
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