Assertions of legal rights to arctic resources have dubious legal standing while us remains outside of UNCLOS
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The inevitable market incentive to exploit Arctic resources already is experiencing growing pains. In 2008, a Las Vegas based company called Arctic Oil & Gas levied a claim to virtually all the seabed petroleum in the Arctic, which it estimates to be around 400 billion barrels of oil.n331 While acknowledging that the vast petroleum deposits are the "common heritage of mankind," the firm nevertheless filed a claim with the UN for exclusive Arctic rights.n332 Even in spite of American abstention from UNCLOS, Arctic Oil & Gas argues that the polar region needs a private "'lead manager' to organize a multinational consortium of oil companies to extract undersea resources responsibly and equitably.n333
Nevertheless, it is doubtful that anything will come of such claims given their lack of international recognition under UNCLOS. In the absence of the legal certainty that the Convention provides for sovereign rights over an extended continental shelf, it is unlikely that enough U.S. companies will be willing or able to secure the necessary financing to exploit Arctic resources, or to keep other countries from exploiting them.n334
"Implications of Global Warming on State Sovereignty and Arctic Resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: How the Arctic is no Longer Communis Omnium Naturali Jure
." Richmond Journal of Global Law & Business
. Vol. 8. (Winter 2008): 195-248. [ More (12 quotes) ]
The United States cannot currently participate in the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which oversees ocean delineation on the outer limits of the extended continental shelf (outer continental shelf). Even though it is collecting scientific evidence to support eventual claims off its Atlantic, Gulf, and Alaskan coasts, the United States, without becoming party to the convention, has no standing in the CLCS.