The Continental Shelf Project of the Kingdom of Denmark is a co-operation between Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland and its purpose is to document shelf claims in areas beyond 200 nautical miles. The project was begun in 2002 and is not expected to be finished until around 2030.

The project can be divided into three main phases of which the first two phases have been concluded.

Phase one: Collection of data and submission of claims to the United Nations, 2002-2014

During this phase Denmark acquired scientific data and continuously prepared the submissions whose purpose is to support the Kingdom of Denmark’s claim for an extended continental shelf. This initial but very central phase was concluded in 2014 with the submission of the last of five technical submissions to the CLCS, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under the United Nations.

During the first phase, separate financing from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science (approx. 350 million DKK) was allocated to the participating institutions, primarily GEUS. Of this amount, the Faroese Home Rule co-financed the data acquisition by the Faroe Islands with approx. 20 million DKK. Furthermore, Faroese authorities and institutions made a substantial number of personnel available in connection with this work.

The negotiations for the area north of the Faroe Islands were concluded in 2014 with a recommendation from CLCS.

Phase two: Maintaining and updating knowledge, 2015-2020

This phase has focused on maintaining data and geological knowledge in the relevant areas, evaluating submissions by other countries, publications etc.. In addition, technical assessments and analyses were carried out continuously in the light of the newest recommendations from the CLCS as well as technical contributions in preparation for future negotiations with the CLCS and/or neighbouring countries. During this phase, the Continental Shelf Project has been anchored in the Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities. This phase is financed through a government grant provided to GEUS.

Phase three: Border negotiations between neighbouring countries and the examination of submissions by the CLCS, 2020-2030(?)

During this phase, the four remaining submissions by the Kingdom of Denmark are examined by the CLCS and the actual border negotiations concerning overlapping shelf claims are due to begin. Much more so than earlier phases, this phase is aimed at diplomatic negotiations, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of the negotiations with the CLCS and border negotiations. The examination by the CLCS concerns three areas off Greenland: south of, northeast of and north of Greenland in that order, as well as the area south of the Faroe Islands, either before or simultaneously, depending on whether Iceland gives up its protest against the consideration of the submission by the CLCS. GEUS will continue to contribute with technical analyses and assessments as in the second phase and continues to be financed through a government budget grant provided to GEUS.

We expect the negotiations with the CLCS to last at least 10 years, and anticipate that the simultaneous or subsequent border negotiations with neighbouring countries will be lengthy, too.