|Norway-Russia Arctic technology bid|
| [27.01.2012, 10:48am, Fri. GMT]|
|Norway has launched a Nkr16 million ($2.7 million) bilateral project with Russia to develop new technology for exploitation of oil and gas resources in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region, including the Barents Sea. The initiative, named Russian-Norwegian oil and gas industry co-operation in the High North, is backed by industry players including Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, US supermajor ConocoPhillips and Anglo-Dutch giant Shell, as well as diverse private and public sector bodies from both countries.Unveiling the project on Thursday, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said: “To develop the Barents Sea as a new energy region, we must have the necessary technology in place to move into vulnerable Arctic areas.|
“A co-operation between state and private-sector actors from the Norwegian and Russian sides is vital to succeed in development of such technology.”
The three-year project, to be led by Intsok, will have a total budget of Nkr16 million, with Nkr6 million of this coming from Norway’s oil-rich coffers.
Store called for greater cross-border co-operation with Russia in a white paper on northern areas last year following ratification of a maritime border treaty in a formerly disputed zone that has opened up new areas for oil and gas exploitation off both countries.
The joint initiative will first document common technological challenges for Arctic operations, followed by analyses of existing technology, methods and best practices.
It will then identify areas for innovation and further technological development.
“This project gives industrial content to the energy co-operation with Russia following the maritime border treaty. It will help to facilitate increased petroleum activity in the Barents Sea, which must happen in a sustainable and responsible way, with the industry in the driving seat,” Store added.
Environmental groups such as Greenpeace are strongly opposed to offshore drilling in the Arctic, fearing that an oil spill would be virtually impossible to clean up in ice-bound waters, with catastrophic effects for the regional eco-system.