MOSCOW, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Russia announced a development agenda for its arctic territories that embraces energy development under the premise of national security interests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on the 10-page "Strategy of the Russian Arctic Zone Development and National Security until 2020" that highlights energy development in the arctic region.
The document calls for the "secure fundamental growth of arctic-sea occurring mineral deposit balanced reserves by implementing national programs for studying and exploration of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation and also starting work to explore oil and gas deposits in the Russian Federation Arctic Zone."
Warmer weather patterns have left parts of the arctic ice-free for longer periods. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that as much as 80 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas may lie in arctic regions.
U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil and Russian energy company Rosneft last year signed a deal to develop parts of the Black Sea and the South Kara Sea in the Russian arctic. There may be as much as 85 billion barrels of oil in the Kara Sea.
Environmental groups have expressed concern over the threat of environmental damage. Both companies said they're committed to ensuring the arctic environment is protected, however.