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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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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.