Twenty-three years after Mikhail Gorbachev suggested setting up a Soviet-Norwegian cooperation to jointly explore the energy resources in the Arctic, Statoil and Gazprom have signed an agreement that opens for cooperation in such areas geological exploration in the Barents Sea. The Statoil – Gazprom agreement on scientific and technological cooperation was signed on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Statoil writes in a press-release that the agreement compiles a Sci-Tech Cooperation Program to be adjusted every 1 to 3 years for the purpose of joint efforts coordination. Pursuant to the Agreement, the parties will in such areas as geological exploration and development of hydrocarbon fields; hydrocarbons production and treatment before transportation; technologies and equipment for the hydrocarbons transportation; environmental protection of the Northern seas and territories; Health, Safety and Environment issues under northern conditions; energy saving; renewable energy sources; gas processing; project management and corporate governance.
In October 1987, CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev held a speech in Murmansk where he talked about the prospects for Soviet-Western energy cooperation in the Barents Sea by setting up a joint Norwegian-Soviet project. Later, the Soviet Prime Minister Ryshkov proposed joint Norwegain-Russian energy cooperation in the disputed zone in the Barents Sea. The proposal was rejected by Norway, who said the long-standing delimitation issue must be solved prior to any question regarding petroleum cooperation in the area.
The delimitation question was solved during Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s state visit to Oslo in late April. Now, the two countries petroleum Majors follows up with the St. Petersburg agreement on the same issues as Gorbachev originally suggested.
Statoil and Gazprom are partners in the Shtokman Development, the joint venture together with French Total set up to develop the huge natural gas field in the northeastern part of the Barents Sea.