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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Denmark hopes to claim North Pole
Map showing five potential offshore claim areas identified by Denmark
Denmark hopes to claim the North Pole and search for oil in high Arctic regions, the Science Ministry has said.

It announced that the country would send a team to try to prove that the seabed beneath the North Pole was a natural continuation of Greenland.

The world's largest island is a semi-independent Danish territory whose northern tip is around 725km (450 miles) from the Pole.

Possible claimants to the area with the Pole also include Russia and Canada.

"We're seeing a growing focus on and fight for the resources in the Arctic, especially as the global warming makes the region more accessible," Samantha Smith of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) told Reuters news agency.

New resources

Danish scientists hope to prove through hi-tech measurements that Greenland's continental socket is attached to a huge ridge beneath the floating Arctic ice, the Associated Press reports.

The country has allocated 150 million kroner ($25m) for the project on the Lomonosov Ridge and four other potential claim areas around Greenland, reports say.

Science Minister Helge Sander said last week that success would give Denmark access to "new resources such as oil and natural gas".

The Danish bid also rests on a UN convention that allows coastal nations to claim rights to offshore seabed resources.

Countries that ratify it have 10 years to prove they have a fair claim to the offshore territory and its resources.

"First, we have to make the scientific claim. After that, there will be a political process with the other countries," science ministry official Thorkild Meedom said.

But experts have warned that it could take years to sort out the overlapping potential claims in the Arctic.

Canada and Russia are making similar investigations around the North Pole, the Associated Press reports.

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06 Aug 04  |  Europe
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28 Jul 04  |  Europe
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24 Jun 04  |  Science/Nature
Regions and territories: Greenland
01 Sep 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Greenland
10 Aug 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Denmark
06 Aug 04  |  Country profiles

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