Speaking to journalists in Kirkenes, the Norwegian border town, Brende stresses that plans for hydrocarbon exploration in the area should proceed as planned and that troublesome relations with Moscow should not dictate Norwegian conduct.
“This is Norwegian territory and Norway has its full rights to engage”, Brende told BarentsObserver.
At the same time, he admits that Norwegian activities in the area “send an important signal”.
The minister underlines that he takes for granted that all parts observe international law in the area.
At the same time, he strongly condemns Russian conduct in Ukraine, and reiterates his support for the sanction regime. “It is utterly unacceptable that one country takes a piece of another,” he underlines, adding that the sanction regime against Russia illustrates the seriousness in the situation.
Debate about drilling in the formerly disputed waters have gained strength as Norway is about to issue oil licenses along its border to Russia as part of the 23rd License Round. As many as 34 of the announced blocks are located in the formerly disputed zone, eight of them directly along the borderline.
As previously reported, Arctic oil expert Johan Petter Barlindhaug earlier told BarentsObserver that oil companies in the current tense political situation should not be allowed to drill along the border. Meanwhile, former Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen argues that oil exploration in the formerly disputed waters between Norway and Russia will “strengthen cooperation and promote trust in the region”.
Minister Brende visits Kirkenes in connection with this week’s Kirkenes Conference.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada ponders exceptions to relief well rule for Arctic oil drilling, Alaska Dispatch
Finland: Solar and wind power yield cheapest energy say Finnish experts, Yle News
Greenland: #SavetheArctic… from Greenpeace, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot
Iceland: From Arctic Circle 2013-2014, a big drop in the price of oil, Blog by Mia Bennett
Norway: ‘Arctic oil is incommensurate with 2ºC target:’ WWF, Barents Observer
Russia: Lukoil eyes new Arctic licenses, Barents Observer
United States: Arctic standards won’t be ready for Shell’s return, Alaska Dispatch