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Russia could get its hands on the world's largest oil reserves

Russia could get its hands on the world's largest oil reserves

The world currently consumes about 36 billion barrels of oil annually, and the 511 billion barrels discovered in Antarctica represent “ten times the total production of the North Sea in 50 years.”

However, there is one major problem: the 1961 Antarctic Treaty, to which Russia is a party, strictly prohibits the exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the region. Moscow defended itself not to violate international law, claiming that the research conducted by the ship “Alexander Karpinsky”, commissioned by the “Rosgio” agency responsible for discovering new geological reserves for commercial purposes, was only for “scientific” purposes, according to reports. Le Figaro.

British MPs are concerned about the possibility of circumventing the treaty, especially after the Russians sent evidence of their discovery to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) last week. But David Routley, Britain's deputy foreign secretary, said he had confidence in Russia's pledges, saying: “Russia has recently confirmed its commitment to the core elements of the treaty.”

And not all experts are so optimistic: Russia, a rogue actor, and an increasingly assertive China could also violate the agreement, says Klaus Dodds, professor of geopolitics at Royal Holloway College. “Russia’s actions should be interpreted as a decision to flout seismic exploration rules and may ultimately have been a prelude to the next resource extraction,” Dodds said.

The tensions that can already be observed in the Arctic region may also find their counterpart on the other side of the globe. Although Russia does not have any territorial claims in Antarctica, it has gradually increased its presence in the region in recent years, citing various scientific research, and has established five research stations in the region since 1957.

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Cover image source: Shutterstock

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