Look for some interesting developments very quickly at the top of the world. For the first time in recorded history, Arctic sea ice will be completely broken up this summer--in short, the North Pole could be ice free.This will allow a small fleet of survey ships to sail over areas that have historically been closed to them because of thick ice. Their target: Trying to get a glimpse into the oil and gas reserves that are thought to be there. "Symbolically it is hugely important. There is suppose to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," says Mark Serreze with the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. There is no land at the North Pole and for eons it's been one giant block of ice that was frozen year-round. Each summer, though, for the past few years, the amount of ice has gotten thinner, which means when the winter freeze begins, the ice is thinner. The most drastic of recent studies had suggested this day wouldn't come for several decades. For Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark and the U.S., the end of the North Pole ice cap means the race is on to see what kind of oil and gas reserves lie under what had formerly been sheets and sheets of ice. Russia usually winters several large research vessels in the region, so they would be in a good position to take quick advantage of this situation. All of the Arctic nations are trying to amend a UN treaty that sets economic zones along their northern coasts. The members of the Arctic club want the zone to extend 200 miles. This would give them control over these potential new oil and gas reserves that might be available. There is something else to consider as well. No one knows what the impact will be with this much fresh water being introduced into the world's oceans. Stay tuned: It might not make a lot of the news shows, but expect a flurry of seismic survey activity at the top of the world this summer. More to come. –John A. Sullivan, News Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, www.OilandGasInvestor.com, jsullivan@hartenergy.com