"Barents drilling will promote trust with the Russians"

Former Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen believes Norwegian drilling along the border to Russia will be good for Barents Cooperation.

Norway should not drop its plans to drill along the border to Russia, Rune Rafaelsen says.


“The Barents Sea is a sea of cooperation, we have a long tradition for joint action in the area”, Rafaelsen, Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, underlines.

He strongly disagrees with the ones calling for a pause in Norwegian-Russian energy cooperation and for the postponement of exploration of blocks located adjacent to the two countries’ borderline.

Oil exploration in the formerly disputed waters between Norway and Russia will strengthen cooperation and promote trust in the region, the former Secretariat leader says.

The political chill in relations with Russia following the country’s annexation of the Crimea and its incursions in other parts of eastern Ukraine have raised concern among most neighboring countries. Any operation along the Russian border is increasingly deemed sensitive and abound with risks.

Arctic oil expert Johan Petter Barlindhaug earlier told BarentsObserver that oil companies in the current situation should not be allowed to drill along the border.

Norway is expected to shortly announce its 23rd License Round. In that round, as many as 34 blocks are located in the formerly disputed area between Norway and Russia, several of them along the borderline. The waters, which were delimited in 2011, are believed to hold a significant oil and gas potential.

Arctic cooperation is impossible without the Russians, Rafaelsen says, arguing that common interests are abundant. “We have cooperated closely with the Russians over Arctic fisheries for half a century, and the same kind of cooperation is natural in the field of energy”,  

“The situation in Ukraine must not stop us from addressing key issues in the Arctic”, Rafaelsen says to BarentsObserver.

The former Secretariat leader is not concerned about what might happen if oil companies discover a major oil field with cross-border resources. “In this region, we have a tradition for finding solutions”, he underlines.