The European Union wants to negotiate an international moratorium to ban the exploitation of gas, oil and coal deposits in the Arctic and could ban the purchase of hydrocarbons extracted from this region, the European Commission announced on Wednesday, reports AFP.
“Coal, gas and oil must remain underground in this region,” European Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told a news conference.
The commission, he said, wants to study with its partners “a multilateral legal obligation not to allow the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic or adjacent regions, nor to buy these hydrocarbons if they were produced.”
The EU could rely on partial moratoriums on Arctic oil exploration with the United States, Canada or Greenland, the European commissioner said.
“We are not naive,” he admitted, adding that “intense diplomatic efforts will be needed, but the EU must set an example.”
For his part, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell noted that “the Arctic is changing rapidly due to the impact of global warming, increased competition for natural resources and geopolitical rivalries.”
“These developments show that Europe must generally define its geopolitical interests in order to promote stability, security and peaceful cooperation in the Arctic,” he said in a statement.
EU diplomacy is associated with the preparation of this strategy in the Arctic by Commissioner Sinkevicius.
This region, Sinkevicius said, “is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. Melting ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic further accelerates climate change and has enormous effects.
The growing demand for fuels to revive the worldwide economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is driving interest in reserves in the region.
The EU will have to persuade the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Iceland to accept such a moratorium. But Russia has made the exploitation of Arctic resources – oil, gas and minerals – a strategic priority.
“The Arctic has enormous potential. In terms of resources, it is about 15 billion tons of oil and one hundred thousand billion m3 of gas. Enough for tens or even hundreds of years ”, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandr Novak, underlined in September, according to Agerpres.ro.
On the other hand, the profitability of exploiting these resources will depend in part on the northern sea route, also called the Northeast Passage. This Arctic route allows the Suez Canal to be shortened by half its distance and will simplify the delivery of hydrocarbons to Southeast Asia, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.