In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Rockall claim puts Britain on collision course with Iceland

Posted by seumasach on April 7, 2009

Perhaps another chance for the Brits to invoke anti-terror legislation and grab a bit of Iceland’s oil. Measuring the continental shelf from St. Kilda seems to be stretching it a bit. I suppose we can measure out 350 miles from the Malvinas too, and grab the oil that’s known to be there.


1st April, 2009

Britain has lodged an application for thousands of square miles of the seabed around the Atlantic outcrop of Rockall – embarking on what could be a diplomatic collision course with Iceland and the Faroes.

The submission for the potentially oil-rich territory was delivered yesterday to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in New York. The unilateral claim for part of the North Atlantic zone, known as the Hatton-Rockall basin, follows the breakdown of years of negotiations between the UK, Ireland, the Faroes, and Iceland. “We are disappointed that agreement on joint action has not proved possible,” the Foreign Office said. “We hope [other countries] do not feel the need to dispute the UK’s submission.” There is a May deadline for states that were early signatories of the UN treaty to post their claims; the UK is expected to lodge another application for the disputed continental shelf around the Falklands in the coming weeks. Rockall, the eroded cone of an extinct volcano, stands only 70 feet above the sea and is regularly washed over by Atlantic breakers. For decades ownership was disputed between Britain and Ireland in the belief that possession would deliver control over the surrounding waters. A change in the UNCLCS rules, however, meant that isolated outcrops could not generate territorial claims. The UK now measures its extended continental shelf claim – which under the UN regulations can stretch up to 350 miles offshore – from the outlying Hebridean island of St Kilda.

One Response to “Rockall claim puts Britain on collision course with Iceland”

  1. smeddum said

    This story reminded me of the Wolftones song.

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