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Arcitc Yearbook 2012
using almost exclusively Russian equipment failed to materialize, and Gazprom’s ventures in the
Shtokman field stalled due to disagreements on the extent of foreign involvement (Moe and Lowe,
2008). The combination of Russia’s offshore ambitions and Norway’s relative advantage in
equipment and personnel created an attractive partnership opportunity. President Medvedev himself
welcomed the collaboration: “We actually want our Norwegian friends to apply all of their best
technologies, all of their best designs, to promote the modernization of our oil and gas sector”
(Socor, 2010). The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources advocates changing legislation to allow
foreign companies to join projects in Russian strategic fields, though it is currently the only Ministry
supporting this idea (Socor, 2010). In the short and medium term at least, an arrangement in which
Norway supplies equipment and expertise in exchange for a share of Russia’s petroleum profits
appears mutually beneficial, as it will take years for Russia to develop its own technical abilities
sufficiently to carry out its development plans. Furthermore, that Norway and Russia are both party
to the Bologna Accord (1999) paves the way for possible longer-term scientific and technological
collaborations founded on a common set of educational standards and principles (Bourmistrov and
Sørnes, 2007). Upon reflection, it should not come as a surprise that the Barents Sea agreement was
reached despite rich resource potential—on the contrary, resource prospects expedited the
agreement, rather than impeding it.
Norway and Russia’s partnership exemplifies the way in which infrastructural scarcity presents
opportunities for cooperative approaches to local and regional problems. These collaborative
infrastructures stem from mutual interests in expanding the reach and improving the efficacy of
Arctic infrastructure. Norway and Russia’s collaboration was founded on the sharing of equipment
and expertise. While the ‘on-the-ground’ work will be carried out by a number of non-state actors
including engineers and corporate executives, the fact that the collaborative framework was
conceived and endorsed at the highest levels of state government indicates that states themselves are
wholly invested in collaborative infrastructures as a means of advancing their respective agendas. By
electing to collaborate rather than pursue development independently, the Russian and Norwegian
governments relinquished a measure of autonomy while providing for Barents Sea oil and gas
projects to proceed according to mutually agreed-upon standards, setting a powerful precedent for
interstate cooperation. In this way, collaborative infrastructures are an example of a “sovereignty
bargain” by which states trade autonomy for increased control and legitimacy (Alam et al., 2009). As
is often the case in such arrangements, infrastructure forms the foundation of the collaboration, with