China’s First Exploration License in the Arctic

The exploration license awarded to CNOOC by Iceland’s national energy authority, Orkustofnun, for exploration of the country’s Arctic waters, marks the first entry of a major energy company into Iceland’s oil sector and China’s first foray into the Arctic.  The entire arctic region is estimated to hold 90 billion barrels of oil according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  China has put significant effort into establishing itself as a player in the growing debate over control and governance of the Arctic, particularly as its vast energy reserves come into sharper focus.