Norway and Russia to sign Arctic accord

Jun 11, 2007 02:00 AM

Norway and Russia have agreed to sign an accord settling a decades-old dispute over the Arctic sea border between the two countries.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Fradkov, agreed on the demarcation deal covering the Varangerfjord area in the Barents Sea during a meeting in Moscow.

The area covers an area half the size of Germany that is believed to contain significant oil or gas deposits.
"We have agreed in principle to sign a deal on Varangerfjord within the next few days," Fradkov was reported as saying. Stoltenberg also met Russian president Vladimir Putin during the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg.
"I think that our further work will take us to a stage where we will be able to sign an agreement setting down a demarcating line in unresolved regions of the Barents Sea," Stoltenberg was reported as saying.

Russian and Norwegian officials said the dispute had hindered the development of the region for years. So far, the Statoil-operated Snoehvit gas field is the only development in the Norwegian sector of the sea. Uncertainty still surrounds Moscow's plans to develop the giant Shtokman field, in the Russian sector of the sea.
It was said Stoltenberg had proposed setting up a free economic zone in the area, allowing both Russia and Norway to service the field. The proposed zone would include Norway's Sor-Varanger municipality and the Russian cities of Pechenega and Nikel.

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