Russians ready for Spitsbergen petroleum

Nov 17, 2008 01:00 AM

Russian geologists believe there is a good chance of finding oil and gas outside the coast of Spitsbergen in the Arctic. However, Norwegian authorities are unlikely to allow such activity.
In the Arctic Shelf conference in Murmansk, a Russian petroleum expert said that there are good chances of finding oil and gas reserves on the shelf of the Svalbard archipelago. Russians have conducted several studies of the geology west of the archipelago, and say that the geological structures are promising.

Norwegian authorities consider the continental shelf of Svalbard to be under Norwegian jurisdiction and have not opened for oil and gas in the area. The authorities are therefore sceptical toward the Russian activities.
The Russian research vessel Professor Kyrentsov has done several studies of the geology outside of Svalbard with permission from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. However, Norway will not give permission to further studies. Russia's opinion is that Norway has no jurisdiction beyond 12 nautical miles from the coastline.

Indra Overland from the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) says that he doubts Norway will allow any Russian oil or gas exploration outside the west coast of Svalbard.
"So far, Norway has tried to limit the economic activity around Svalbard and this policy will probably continue."
Norwegian broadcaster NRK's Moscow correspondent Morten Ruud believes that this is only political tactics from the Russian side and should be seen in relations to the ongoing negotiations in the disputed area of the Barents Sea.

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