Disputed waters on the agenda

Just few weeks before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Oslo for a state visit, both Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s Vladimir Putin highlight the positive dynamics in talks over the disputed waters in the Barents Sea.


In their meeting in Helsinki yesterday, Stoltenberg and Putin confirmed the “good and productive atmosphere” in the talks over the delimitation of the Barents Sea. Both men agreed that a deal would significantly facilitate new joint projects in the two countries’ High North.

-I believe that if we manage to solve this issue, new fields of opportunities for extended economic cooperation will open, among them in the energy sector, Stoltenberg said in a press conference following the meeting, the Russian Government press service informs.

The meeting, which was held during the Baltic Sea Action Summit, lasted for about 45 minutes, and both the Shtokman field and the disputed zone were on the agenda. Both issues are highly inter-related. The huge Shtokman field is located not far from the disputed 155,000 square km zone, and is by the Norwegian side seen as a strategically key project.

In addition, the zone is believed to hide significant hydrocarbon resources. A deal on the zone delimitation and subsequent oil and gas developments in the area would have major possible impact on the Shtokman field development.

In a time with uncertainties in the world gas market, the opening of the disputed waters for oil and gas activities, would make the development of the Shtokman field more attractive. The Shtokman developers Gazprom, Total and Statoil would then not only be able to use field infrastructure in additional projects, but also have a significant chance to succeed in bids for other fields in the area.

Read also: Gazprom might abandon Shtokman

Talking to newspaper Aftenposten after the meeting in Helsinki, Prime Minister Stoltenberg underlined that hydrocarbon developments in the Disputed Zone are impossible as long as there is no delimitation deal. He also highlighted that the oil and gas resources in the zone are located far closer to land than the Shtokman field and that they would therefore also be far easier to develop.

Talks between Norway and Russian on the delimitation of the 155,000 square kilometer zone in the Barents Sea have been going on for almost 40 years. While Norway wants to divide the zone based on a middle line principle, Russia insists that a sector line principle is applied.