Russia, Norway, Exchange Ratification Protocols on Border in Barents Sea

June 9, 2011
With the exchange of ratification protocols Norway and Russia end forty years of unsettled relations in the Barents Sea. Oil and gas mapping in the area might start already in July.

"With this treaty, we are setting an example worldwide of how delimitation disputes can be resolved peacefully, in accordance with international law and within the framework of modern international jurisprudence. With this treaty, Norway and Russia are also making it clear that there is no ongoing race for resources in the Arctic, but that we – as responsible Arctic coastal states – are adhering to international law, including the international law of the sea,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a ceremony in Oslo Tuesday.

"It is a historic day for Norway. Our land borders and maritime boundaries are now all clearly established, the foreign minister underlined in his speech.

Støre after the event said that the agreement is not only important for northern Norway and Russian Arctic regions like Murmansk, but also for all of Norway. -It releases a potential for new projects, in areas where we earlier were reluctant to cooperate, he told BarentsObserver.

Minister Lavrov in his speech highlighted that the agreement is a just deal which serves both countries. "It binds both our countries’ interests together in an organic way and opens for an even more efficient use of marine bio-resources", he said, stressing that the two countries’ fish industries will not suffer from the border delineation.

"The deal opens perspectives for a broad partnership within oil and gas and gives wider possibilities also for cooperation within fields like transport and shipbuilding", Lavrov said.

The exchange of instruments of ratification at Akershus Castle was the final step towards entry into force of the historic treaty on maritime delimitation, which was first announced during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’ visit to Oslo in April 2010 and later signed in Murmansk on 15 September. The treaty was subsequently ratified the Norwegian parliament and the Russian State Duma this year. The treaty will enter into force on 7 July 2011.

The 175,000 square km zone which now has been split into two equally big areas is believed to hide significant volumes of hydrocarbons. It is expected that both countries will soon start up mapping of their respective resource potentials in the area. The Norwegian side has reportedly already requested the company PGS to prepare for seismic studies in the area.

Until now, there has been a moratorium on hydrocarbon mapping and exploration in the area.

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