[If there are no coincidences, then does the appearance of “Al-CIA-da” clones in Denmark, just as the Brits are seeking to expand their claims to seabed rights to oil and gas around this tiny rock island (102′ x 83′) also claimed by Denmark, implicate the secret services in the Danish “Islamist” plots? SEE: “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread ; Denmark terrorism plot thwarted with arrest of five suspected militants, authorities say]
Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland battle over Atlantic outcrop sitting on lucrative oil and gasfields
Ownership of Rockall is disputed by Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland. The competing applications are likely to be reviewed by the UN in March. Photograph: David Simms/AFP/Getty Images
British claims to ownership of Rockall – the isolated Atlantic outcrop jutting out of a potentially vast and lucrative oilfield around 240 miles west of Scotland – is to be examined within weeks by the UN.
A formal claim for thousands of square miles of the seabed surrounding the rock has been made by Denmark and the Faroe Islands, potentially overriding the claims of Britain, Ireland and Iceland. At stake could be licences and income worth billions of pounds.
The four competing applications are likely to be reviewed by the UN’s Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in March.
Diplomatic talks between the four countries have been rotating around European capitals for several years, in the hope of agreeing an amicable division of the seabed in the Hatton-Rockall basin. They have failed so far to map out a mutually acceptable settlement.
The hunt for offshore gas and oil at a time of increasing energy demand is driving enthusiasm among coastal states around the world to annex as much of the seabed as they are legally permitted.
In June, the commission’s panel of marine experts dismissed Britain’s application to extend its prospecting rights over 200,000 square miles of the ocean floor around Ascension Island in the south Atlantic. The commission ruled that the island, an overseas British territory that is also a volcanic pinnacle, was too slender to generate rights to an extended zone of the submerged continental shelf.
The dispute over Rockall is historically complex. The Royal Navy formally annexed the rock in 1955 by hoisting the Union flag.
The 1972 Island of Rockall Act formally declared it as part of Invernesshire, even though the nearest permanently inhabited settlement is 228 miles away in the Outer Hebrides.
Imperial ambitions were set back, however, by international ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that: “Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”
All of the rival claims submitted to the commission over the past few years have focused on the surrounding Hatton-Rockall Basin, under which are believed to be extensive oil and gas deposits.
Rockall, nonetheless, sits on a plateau claimed by all four nations. Britain and Ireland have agreed a common marine border that leaves Rockall in the UK sector.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We note that Denmark has made its submission in respect of the Faroe-Hatton plateau. We are presently studying this and the attached note verbale, which Denmark presented to the UN secretary-general.
“The UK … re-affirms its own commitment to the quadrilateral talks between the UK, Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held in Reykjavik in May 2011.”