Norwegian house ratifies Arctic border agreement with Russia

8th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Norwegian parliament on Tuesday ratified an accord reached with Russia on demarcating the two countries' maritime border in the Barents Sea, removing another hurdle to tapping suspected vast oil and gas reserves in the Arctic region.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reached the deal in April last year, ending a 40-year dispute over a 176,000-square-kilometre (67,950-square-mile) maritime area straddling their economic zones in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

The accord was unanimously ratified by the Norwegian parliament, but still needs approval from the Russian Duma before it can go into effect, clearing the way for both countries to begin charting the seabed.

"The Russians are in the process of handling the case, from what I understand," Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told parliament.

"This is the beginning of a new era of Russian-Norwegian cooperation," he was quoted as saying by the NTB news agency.

The Arctic seabed is believed to hold 90 billion barrels, or 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of the gas resources yet to be found, according to the US Geological Survey.

© 2011 AFP

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