Iceland Requests Larger Portion of Continental Shelf Skip to content

Iceland Requests Larger Portion of Continental Shelf

The Icelandic government submitted a report to the United Nations Commission in New York last week on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS), requesting a larger portion of the continental shelf that lies outside the 200-nautical mile zone.

Reykjanes, the peninsula from which Reykjaneshryggur extends. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The claim is based on a review of the outer limits of the continental shelf of Reykjaneshryggur, which, in Iceland’s interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, should be defined as an underwater rise instead of an underwater ridge, Fréttabladid reports.

Tómas H. Heidar, an expert in international law at the Foreign Ministry, explained that if Iceland is granted a larger part of the shelf and extends its area to 850 nautical miles from the shore instead of the current 350, the natural resources on Reykjaneshryggur could contribute to the state’s income.

Heidar said natural resources of various kinds can be found there such as oil, gas and metals, but also geothermal heat. “It is difficult to estimate how high the revenue could be, but there is increased likelihood of very valuable geothermal heat existing in the area around Reykjaneshryggur. It is only a matter of time before it will be harnessed.”

The report also included an agreement between Iceland, Norway and Denmark on behalf of the Faroe Islands from 2006 on the division of the continental shelf at Aegisdjúp northeast of Iceland, but not the debated Hatton Rockall basin, which lies to the south of the country.

Click here to read more about the Hatton Rockall basin.

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