Barents Sea Nations Meet, Declare Murmansk “Gas Capital”

Today, the Murmansk International Economic Forum met in the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle. The Barents Sea Nations, which are composed of Russia and the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway, convened to discuss the future of oil and gas development in the region. The Shtokman Field is the heart of the gas deposits here, and Gazprom is counting on it to boost up the whole of the Russian gas industry in the future.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the need for militarization of the Arctic, stating, “Any problem of the Arctic could be solved by peaceful dialogue and cooperation.”

In addition, Aleksei Miller, chair of Gazprom, noted that extensive efforts would be made to support social development in this remote corner of Russia. This comment comes in light of recent outcry over the treatment of indigenous populations in Murmansk, whose traditional reindeer herding is threatened by the gas projects.

The forum may not only have economic effects, but also geopolitical ones. The CEO of Rosneft, Sergei Bogdanchikov, said that he wants the so-called gray zone between Norway and Russia to be opened for development. Although some progress has been made in determining the borders of this disputed area in the Barents Sea, but until the two countries reach an agreement, no drilling can occur in the region. An estimated 400 million tons of oil lie in the seabed of the gray zone.

Video address by Murmansk Oblast’s Governor Dmitry М. Dmitrienko

News links

“Murmansk declared gas capital,” Barents Observer

“Future of the Arctic in focus at Barents Sea nations forum,” Russia Today

“Norwegian-Russian Swap Deal in the Barents Sea?” Who Owns the Arctic blog by Dr. Michael Byers

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