|Norway and Russia plan path towards Arctic energy exploration|
| [04.02.2012, 05:55pm, Sat. GMT]|
|Norway announced an initiative this week to invest about 1 million USD towards a Norwegian-Russian project that will assess the technology needed to develop the untapped oil fields in the Arctic region, particularly in the Barents Sea. The project has a total funding estimate of about 2.7 million USD over three years and will include partners such as INTSOK, Gazprom, Tschudi Shipping, and others.The group will assess the challenges, gaps in technology, and methods and best practices in order to determine a path forward. According to Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, the Arctic region holds potentially up to 20% of the world’s untapped energy resources. Norway already operates a liquefied natural gas field in the Barents Sea, though in the easiest location to do so, and is in the process of accepting applications of interest for exploration licenses. |
This newly funded collaborative initiative is governed by a 2010 treaty between the two countries, which came into force in July of 2011, requiring cooperation in the exploitation of any petroleum deposits that extend into each other’s borders. Up until 2010, Norway and Russia had disputed the sea borders in both the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
The 40 year dispute was finally legally resolved when the two agreed to divide the disputed areas into two roughly equal parts. At that time of the initial agreement, Støre described the relationship between Norway and Russia as one of rediscovery. Despite this icy description, Norwegian and Russian companies were already working together to develop the the largest offshore natural gas field in the world.
Additionally, while Norway hopes to ease visa procedures with Russia, it also wants to introduce a maritime surveillance system to keep an eye on activity in the region. As a result, it is unclear whether Norwegian-Russian relations have transitioned from rediscovery into a more trusting phase of relations.