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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Collaborative Infrastructures: A Roadmap for International Cooperation in the Arctic
Collaborative Infrastructures
Many signs indicate that international cooperation is emerging as a dominant
modus operandi
in Arctic
geopolitics. The Norway-Russia boundary resolution is the clearest recent example, ending a 40-year
period of dispute over a 175,000 square kilometer area of the Barents Sea. Norway’s Storting
unanimously ratified the treaty in February 2011, with Russia’s ratification coming in a landslide vote
one month later. The agreement appears all the more remarkable in light of the considerable oil and
gas potential of the formerly disputed region. Seeds of the agreement had been sown years earlier as
each of the states recognized the strategic benefits of the resolution. In 2008, Jonas Gahr Støre,
Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized cooperation with Russia on the prospect of
petroleum extraction:
Most of this activity has taken place in the Norwegian Sea, but the major potential is
on the Russian side. There are huge opportunities for cooperation…I have raised the
issue of infrastructure in my discussions with my Russian colleagues. Is the
infrastructure along the coast able to support the extensive offshore activities that are
expected to develop in this area? This is a good opportunity for the two coastal states
to discuss what will be needed… (Støre, 2008: 13).
While not mentioning Norway specifically, the 2008 Russian Security Policy noted similar
opportunities for cooperation:
Russia develops forward practical cooperation with the Nordic countries, including the
implementation of a multilateral framework of joint cooperation projects in the
Barents Euro-Arctic Region and the Arctic as a whole, taking into account the interests
of indigenous peoples. (Government of Russia, 2008b)
Following the historic agreement, the theme of cooperation was again at the forefront of Minister
Støre’s January 2011 speech at the 5
Arctic Frontiers Conference:
The agreement is a clear reflection of the new dynamic in the Arctic. What was once a
frozen region in more than one sense is warming up to the prospects of reaping mutual
benefits through cooperation and agreements (Støre, 2011).
The Barents Sea is believed to contain some 3,700 million tons of oil equivalent (Moe and Rowe,
2008), equal to 33% of Russia’s proved oil reserves (BP, 2010). According to the boundary resolution
treaty, deposits that straddle the boundary line are to be regarded as an indivisible whole, and may
only be explored and developed jointly by the two countries (Socor, 2010). With such a substantial
prize at stake, it may seem unlikely that the two states would arrive at a resource-sharing agreement
so easily. However, Russia’s extraction capabilities lag significantly behind its announced offshore
platform needs (Moe and Lowe, 2008). Plans to develop the Prirazlomnoye field in the Pechora Sea