President Donald Trump postponed a trip to Denmark this week after Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen rejected Trump’s offer to buy Greenland — the world’s largest island. Frederiksen’s had called Trump’s offer “absurd”, to which Trump responded that her comments were “inappropriate and not nice”.
The war of words soon resulted in a phone call from Washington. “Pompeo spoke by phone today with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod regarding the postponement of President Trump’s travel to Denmark. The Secretary expressed appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies and Denmark’s contributions to address shared global security priorities. The Secretary and Foreign Minister Kofod also discussed strengthening cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark – including Greenland – in the Arctic,” the US spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The Danish prime minister said that she was “disappointed and surprised” by Trump’s decision, but told reporters that “the invitation for a stronger strategic cooperation with the Americans in the Arctic is still open”.
A 2008 estimate by the US Geological Survey, showed that Greenland contains as much as 17,53 billion barrels of crude as well as 148,21 trillion cu ft of natural gas.
Greenland plans to auction onshore oil and gas blocks in 2021. According to Reuters, two Chinese state companies CNPC and CNOOC have expressed interest in the bidding near Disko Island and the Nuussuaq Peninsula.
The island’s deputy energy minister, Jorn Skov Nielsen, told the news agency: “They have not been active in Greenland earlier. It’s a new approach. We are moving the short-term strategy of licensing onshore.”
Copenhagen is currently being courted by both China and the US. A recent proposal by Chinese companies included an offer to financing and build airports in Greenland, but Denmark stepped in to help it to upgrade two local airports.
The autonomous government however, may be more interested in exploring business opportunities with Chinese companies. According to Nielsen, Greenland will be opening an office in Beijing within the next 12 months to that end.