The fruits of concessions in the Barents sea: Norway is Russia’s mistake

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Плоды уступок в Баренцевом море: как Норвегия пользуется ошибкой России

“Norway is prepared to oil the race with Russia” — under such heading the international news Agency Reuters published a quote of the Minister of petroleum and energy of Norway, Terje Sevices. The Minister insists on the intensification of exploration work in the Barents sea near the border with Russia.

“If Russia finds a big discovery, we must be prepared to do everything possible to ensure the economic interests of Norway. That is why we must continue to work near the Russian border”, — told Reuters Terje Sevices.

Speaking about the “economic interests of Norway”, the Minister relies on a prisoner in 2010 between Russia and Norway the agreement On “Maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents sea and the Arctic ocean”. Without this document, upsetting the Russian expert community, the “interests” of Norway in the region would not be so wide. The country was divided a skin of not killed bear, not even knowing what size has the “beast”. And now, taking advantage of the situation, the neighbors will not miss her.

The Treaty Medvedev — Stoltenberg

To draw a line in the Barents sea Norway and the Soviet Union (and later Russia) tried for almost forty years. Initially, the Soviet side insisted on dividing the water area by sectors, accustomed to set boundaries in the Arctic, and in this case the USSR got most of the bottom. Norway also wanted to divide the sea “median line”, which increased their part.

The dispute was formally resolved in 2010 by a compromise, which was followed by unexpectedly with a stubborn Russian side. The site was divided about equally, and Dmitry Medvedev (then President, now Prime Minister of Russia) and Jens Stoltenberg (the Prime Minister of Norway and now NATO Secretary General) signed the contract.

Experts called the agreement a failure. Russia was able to defend his version through the international court, having the important cards. Our proposed line was on the border of the Polar lands, established in 1926 and existing at the present time. In the hands of Russia played and the Treaty of Spitzbergen of 1921, does not allow Norway to legally consider the archipelago to be their territory. But the document was still signed for unknown reasons: because of the compliancy of the Russian leader or for the sake of economic privileges (which, if they had been promised, it is still a mystery).

Russia, according to experts, gave Norway 60-80 thousand “extra” km2. In such a vast territory with unknown reserves may be discovered large deposits of oil and gas, and on whose side their more — is still unknown.

The agreement has raised concerns not only in the oil and gas industry, but also among Russian fishermen. In fishing there is no absolute certainty that the neighboring countries are not a game changer. According to Vyacheslav Zilanov, Deputy Minister of fisheries of the USSR in 1988-1991, Norway is quite able in the future to prevent Russian fishing vessels to fish in their part of the Barents sea, even in the “draw” of Spitsbergen.

“We are now fishing in the sea area of Spitsbergen archipelago, following the rejection by the Soviet Union of the Norwegian 200-mile fishery conservation zone and its jurisdiction here, said in an interview with IA REGNUM author Vyacheslav zilanov. But we are not satisfied that in the archipelago the Norwegians are in full control of our fishing vessels, adherence to the rules that the Norwegians set unilaterally, and the punishment in case of detection of violations of such rules.”

The expert notes that Norway, just seven years ago, having received desirable, will not go to the aggravation of relations with Russia in the region. But for all the future decisions of neighboring countries impossible to answer.

Who needs to work together

According to the 2010 Treaty, the development of deposits discovered at the border line, the country should conduct together. Such objects in the border area is not yet established, however, scientists have long been available forecasts.

In the 1980-ies Murmansk Geophysics have identified in the area of disputed border between the two countries estimated the receptacles of oil and gas fields in the area of the arch Fedynsky in the South of the Barents sea. This area could become one of the world’s largest gas fields: the resources within a facility are estimated at 5.8 trillion cubic meters of gas and exceed the volume of the Shtokman gas condensate Deposit of 3.9 trillion cubic meters.

Evidence of these figures, from the arch Fedynsky has not yet received, but “Rosneft” (which owns all licenses for exploration with the Russian side of the border) is already in talks with the Italian company Eni on joint exploration and development of the surrounding areas — Fedynsky and Central Barents. Norwegian Minister Sevices without mentioning specific names, but targeted his speech precisely on this “Mirage” of major projects.

“The Russians will probably find oil, — quotes Reuters Terje Sevices, to whom the Affairs of its neighbors obviously do not give rest. — But if Russia will find mineral reserves on the Maritime border in the Barents sea, it is necessary to do everything possible to ensure the economic interests of Norway”.

Russia and Norway for several years to discuss approaches to joint development of transboundary reservoirs. Our side at the end of 2016 was ready to sign an agreement on the exchange of seismic data collected on the continental shelf in the Barents sea and the Arctic ocean. But Norway have shown interest in the document under preparation, is in no hurry to bring the case to the end. It seems that the neighbors do not want to share scientific discoveries, the future or already the present?

Note that, for open data, Norway business intelligence on their side are going to matter. In 2017, a leading oil and gas company in the country Statoil has discovered five wells, but found minor deposits of hydrocarbons in only one of them.

For Norway the oil and gas sector plays a huge economic role. According to estimates of the European Commission, on hydrocarbons accounts for about 22% of GDP and 67% of exports. Norwegian resources cover more than 20% of the gas needs of the EU. However, since the mid-2020s years, experts predict a decline in production in the North sea, so the country would save only significant new discoveries.

According to estimates by the Norwegian petroleum Directorate (NPD), the reserves of the Norwegian part of the Barents sea is 65% of undiscovered marine resources of the country. Both in the South and not yet explored the Northern part of the Barents sea may hold up to 1.4 billion cubic meters (8.6 billion barrels) of oil equivalent.

The Norwegian government is in no hurry to approve the plan for resource development: it is expected that it will be produced in 2020. It proves once again the confidence of our Northern neighbors is that Russia will continue complying with the terms of the agreement 2010. Theoretically, to break the agreement allows the Vienna Convention on treaties, but political analysts believe that in order to openly recognize the international Treaty a threat to its national interests, the Russian authorities in the near future, not enough will power.

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