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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norway Welcome on Projects

The government said Friday that it would welcome joint oil and gas works with Norway on the Barents Sea and a deal was possible next year to close a decades-long dispute between the two major energy producers.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement that Norway had proposed to sign a memorandum in the first half of next year after Russia proposed to jointly explore and produce energy in the disputed areas of the Barents Sea and the Arctic.

The dispute dates back to the early 1980s when the Soviet Union began exploration drilling in the so-called gray zone of the Barents Sea but stopped after Oslo objected.

Russia has repeatedly said it will not allow itself to be left behind in the race to exploit the Arctic, now being opened up by global warming, and has warned it would boost its military presence there.

Scientists say ice is receding so quickly that drilling for oil and gas high in the Arctic will soon become routine and cargo ships could sail along a new shipping lane much shorter than the routes used now.

Experts have said Moscow and Oslo are poised to find a compromise over the gray zone soon, as relations have improved after Moscow invited Norway’s Statoil to tap the Shtokman gas deposit.