Norway eyes infrastructure hub near Russian border

Mar 16, 2009 01:00 AM

Alternative site locations for Norwegian oil bases near the Russian border will be mapped, the Norwegian government announced in its new High North policy document. At the same time, the government says it will build a new road to the Russian border and significantly extend the Kirkenes Airport.
In the document named "New Building Stones in the North", the government confirms that it will "map the need for alternative bases in the East Finnmark area for petroleum activities in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea or in Russia".

The new High North document, presented by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and four cabinet ministers, also reads that the government will significantly extend the capacities of the Kirkenes Airport. In addition, the government in its National Transportation Plan, confirmed that it will invest EUR 34 mm in a new road to the Russian border.
Oddgeir Danielsen, adviser in the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, says that the two new government documents show that the border town of Kirkenes might develop into a major infrastructure and petroleum hub.

"Both site location and existing infrastructure make Kirkenes the most likely place for the new oil base functions," Mr Danielsen says. At the same time, he underlines that also other places, among them the town of Hammerfest, is a major contender for the base, and that political considerations might eventually decide the issue.
The need for petroleum bases along the Norwegian Barents Sea coast is increasing as major offshore projects are in the pipeline. Alone the Russian Shtokman field in the Barents Sea is likely boost the need for new infrastructure, trade and contacts across the Norwegian-Russian border.

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