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Because of climate change, new trade routes to Asia is opening up over the arctics. To top this off, it is estimated that 30% of the world oil reserves is there 13% around Svalbard. Russia and Norway are working on grabbing as much as the arctic as they can, while Canada and Denmark is currently having their new borders reviewed by the UN. Same applies to Russia, but they top it off with military presence. Svalbard is a peculiar thing in the north however. Because of the Svalbard treaty, any signers can exploit its resources at the islands or sea and it is a demilitarized zone. Also, you can freely immigrate to Svalbard, without ID, passport or whatever, as long as you come from a participant country. Funny enough, Afghanistan is one of them. What causes conflict is the overlapping claims in the Arctic between the Canadians, Danes and Russians, all claiming the North pole. On top of this, because of the Svalbard treaty and the larger amounts of oil there, Russia wants to get in. However, Norway claims that the Svalbard treaty does not include the resources below the sea, and has laid claimed to the Continental shelf around Svalbard. This has angered the Russians, accusing Norway of violating the treaty. The dispute is if "exploiting the ocean" counts as exploiting the hydrocarbon deposits below it. If not, then the Barents sea treaty states that Norway owns it, because of a line drawn between Norway and Russia in 2010, which states that Norway own the continental shelf on it's side of the border, which includes Svalbard. The only exception is deposits that cross the border, in which case close cooperation between the two parties must the done. This is a lot of money. They claim this could make Norway the next Saudi Arabia. Adding to this, china is currently in the process of buying land in Svalbard. I wonder what the US will, say, if they support Russia, so that they can drill oil themselves or if they support Norway and is allocated drilling rights by the Norwegian government. This is a huge deal of Norway, as we have the closets warm water ports to the arctic. Relevant documents: http://www.jus.uio.no/english/services/library/treaties/01/1-11/svalbard-treaty.xml https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/ud/vedlegg/folkerett/avtale_engelsk.pdf
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/30/imf-agrees-to-include-chinas-rmb-in-benchmark-sdr-currency-basket.html *Witty remark about economics here*