August 28, 2019 | From The Washington Times
From a helicopter, Greenland’s brilliant white ice and dark mountains make the desolation seem to go on forever. And the few people who live here – its whole population wouldn’t fill a football stadium – are poor, with a high rate of substance abuse and suicide.
One scientist called it the “end of the planet.”
When U.S. President Donald Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, it was met with derision, seen as an awkward and inappropriate approach of an erstwhile ally.
But it might also be an Aladdin’s Cave of oil, natural gas and rare earth minerals just waiting to be tapped as the ice recedes.
The northern island and the rest of the Arctic aren’t just hotter due to global warming. As melting ice opens shipping lanes and reveals incredible riches, the region is seen as a new geopolitical and economic asset, with the U.S., Russia, China and others wanting in.
“An independent Greenland could, for example, offer basing rights to either Russia or China or both,” said Fen Hampson, the former head of the international security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation think tank in Waterloo, Ontario, who is now a professor at Carleton University.
He noted the desire by some there to secede as a semi-autonomous territory of Denmark.
“I am not saying this would happen, but it is a scenario that would have major geostrategic implications, especially if the Northwest Passage becomes a transit route for shipping, which is what is happening in the Russian Arctic.”
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin put forward an ambitious program to reaffirm his country’s presence in the Arctic, including efforts to build ports and other infrastructure and expand its icebreaker fleet. Russia wants to stake its claim in the region that is believed to hold up to one-fourth of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas….
Strategically, Greenland forms part of what the U.S. views as a key corridor for naval operations between the Arctic and the North Atlantic. It is also part of the broader Arctic region, considered strategically important because of its proximity to the U.S. and economically vital for its natural resources….
Such minerals were deemed critical to economic and national security by the U.S. Interior Department last year, and as demand rises “deposits outside of China will be sought to serve as a counterbalance to any market control that could be exerted by a single large producer,” said Kenneth Medlock, senior director at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University.
Off Greenland’s shores, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels of oil and 148 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though the remote location and harsh weather have limited exploration. Around the Arctic Circle, there’s potential for 90 billion barrels of oil.
Only 14 offshore wells were drilled in the past 40 years, according to S&P; Global Analytics. So far, no oil in exploitable quantities has been found.
“It’s very speculative, but in theory they could have a lot of oil,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc. “It’s perceived as being the new Alaska, where the old Alaska was thought to be worthless and turned out to have huge reserves. And it’s one of the few places on Earth that’s lightly populated, and it’s close to the U.S.”…
(Excerpt from The Washington Times. Article by David Rising and Seth Borenstein.)