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Gas and Glory Fuel Race for the North Pole

Published: July 31, 2007 (Issue # 1293)


MOSCOW The race for the North Pole is on again, and this time theres more at stake than pride at seeing a national flag fluttering on the icecap: Theres oil and gas too.

Russia is one of a handful of nations vying to lay claim to the vast untapped resources of the Arctic, and the competition like the region itself is likely to heat up as global warming and new technology make previously undreamed-of exploration feasible.

Two deep-sea submersibles made a test dive in polar waters Sunday ahead of a mission to be the first to reach the seabed.

It took an hour for Mir-1 and Mir-2, each carrying one pilot, to reach the seabed at a depth of 1,311 meters, 87 kilometers north of Russias northernmost archipelago, Franz Josef Land in the Barents Sea, Itar-Tass reported.

It was the first time a submersible had worked under the icecap and it proved they can do this, Anatoly Sagalevich, the pilot of Mir-1 was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass as he left the sub.

As the Arctic icecap thins as a result of global warming, a race is looming to claim ownership of the rich energy resources under the North Pole.

The mission plans to drop a meter-tall, titanium Russian tricolor on the exact spot under the pole to stake a symbolic claim to it and large chunks of Arctic territory for Russia, already the worlds largest country.

Moscow is seeking to put forward a legal claim to a United Nations commission in 2009 100 years after the first explorers claimed to have reached the pole by sled and husky.

We are going to be the first to put a flag there, a Russian flag, expedition leader Artur Chilingarov, 68, told a televised news conference before setting off from the northern port of Murmansk last week.

The Arctic is ours and we should demonstrate our presence, said Chilingarov, a Duma deputy speaker who heads the countrys Association of Polar Explorers.

Following behind a nuclear-powered icebreaker, the latest deep-sea maneuvers are part of a larger scientific mission to investigate the geology of the under-explored territory. Despite engine trouble delaying the mission temporarily early last Thursday, all seemed back on course later in the day, reporters on board the convoy said.

We must remind the whole world that Russia is a great polar and scientific power, said Duma Deputy Vladimir Gruzdev, Chilingarovs fellow submariner on the trip.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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