Russia and Norway strike deal over oil-rich Barents Sea region | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 27.04.2010
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Russia and Norway strike deal over oil-rich Barents Sea region

Moscow and Oslo have struck a deal that equally divides the long-contested Barents Sea between them. The agreement ends decades of negotiation over the inhospitable area believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

The Norwegian exploration drilling rig Deepsea Delta, in the Barents Sea

Projects to exploit fuel reserves are already under way

The leaders of Russia and Norway voiced satisfaction over a compromise that ends 40 years of dispute over their maritime frontiers.

"This solution is about more than a border line under the ocean. It is about developing good neighborly relations," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at a joint press with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Oslo. "It will unite much more than divide, and it will become a bridge to cooperation," he added.

Disputes over the sea began in 1970 between Norway and the Soviet Union, subsequently continuing with Russia. The 176,000 square kilometre (67,950 square mile) zone lies off their Arctic coastlines.

"I am glad that we have turned this page," Medvedev told the press conference. "If problems are not solved definitively, then there is friction which presents a strain," he said.

Riches beneath the surface

Projects are already under way to exploit natural resources on both sides of the frontier, involving Russian energy giant Gazprom and the Norwegian fuel supplier Statoil.

Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States have yet to agree on how to share the wider Arctic seabed, which is estimated by the US Geological Survey to hold 90 billion barrels of oil as well as 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas resources.

The need to find a resolution has increased as new technology and global warming make the deposits more accessible.

Editor: Susan Houlton

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