Norway in Talks With Russia on Oilfield Survey Regulation

  • Deal would set rules for seismic surveys along maritime border
  • Norway, Russia share ambition to develop oil in Arctic

Norway is holding talks with Russia on rules for seismic studies of oil and gas fields on each side of their maritime border in the Arctic Barents Sea.

Work on the regulation of seismic studies in the area, where Norway and Russia struck a deal in 2010 to end a decades-long border dispute, has been going on for years and is focusing on hydrocarbon resources that could span across the frontier, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister Tord Lien said on Thursday.

“It’s about being able to shoot seismic all the way to the border,” he said in an interview in Kristiansund, on the coast of central Norway. “Attempting to find practical solutions to this kind of issues has been a feature of Norwegian-Russian cooperation for decades. This is a traditional, common part of this.”

The talks were revealed in the government’s electronic public records portal, which shows the Petroleum Ministry filed a draft agreement to the Foreign Ministry dated Oct. 29.

While sanctions are stopping some oil and gas business between Norway and Russia, the countries share an ambition to develop resources in their respective territory in the Barents Sea. Norway this week received applications for its 23rd licensing round, in which the majority of blocks are in the Barents Sea southeast, an area formerly disputed by Russia and situated along the new border. It’s the first time Norway opens up new acreage for oil explorers since 1994, with license awards expected in the first half of next year.

A “good mix” of companies applied for licenses and showed “significant interest” for some of the blocks, Lien said, declining to say how many companies applied.

It would be “speculation” to discuss whether European Union sanctions against Russia, which Norway has adopted even though it’s not a member of the bloc, have made talks on seismic regulations more difficult, Lien said.

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