Russia, Norway may issue Barents, Arctic shelf licenses in 2013

Russia and Norway may start granting licenses to develop offshore deposits in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean in 2013-2014 under a bilateral sea border agreement, Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry said on Wednesday.

The Russian-Norwegian agreement on delimiting the sea border and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean will come into force on July 7, 2011. The agreement opens new opportunities for the oil and gas industry in the northern regions, the ministry said after a bilateral meeting on the prospects of geological works in the area.

The countries are going to set up consortiums to develop promising offshore deposits taking into account severe environmental conditions of the North, lack of infrastructure and technological problems. The statement also said the ministry was working out legal terms of shelf development regulation and trying to improve tax regime for raising investment in shelf projects.

In September 2010, Russia and Norway signed a deal to delimitate their maritime border after 40 years of negotiations. The two countries have been disputing the 175,000 square km area in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean since 1970. The absence of a defined maritime border often resulted in the seizure of fishing vessels in the region.

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