15-06-2011 / Arctic region: innovations and security PDF Print E-mail
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Arctic. Photo: RIA Novosti

Russia and Norway have warned the global energy behemoths against thoughtlessly capitalizing on the development of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, believed to have the world’s largest oil-and-gas deposits.

The warning came amid the ongoing join efforts by Russia’s Gazprom, Norway’s Statoil and France’s Total to develop the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea. Earlier, Russia and Norway agreed to hold a scientific conference on innovation and security cooperation in the Barents region in Kirkenes – an event that was specifically touted by Anatoly Smirnov, head of the National Institute for Global Security Studies in Moscow. He explained that the conference will, among other things, focus on duly interpreting the words “innovation” and “security”:

"When we talk about innovations we mean that the world is currently facing an unprecedented innovation revolution, which may be fraught with dire consequences," Smirnov says, citing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred in 2010 and 2011, respectively. "Given that man-made disasters are not uncommon during the introduction of high technologies, the main focus should currently be placed on maintaining a comprehensive security," Smirnov insists, warning against money-laundering and other financial violations.

In the meantime, competition in the Arctic region is becoming more and more intense, with the United States, Norway, Japan and South Korea indicating their intent to further foray into the area. As for Russia and Norway, they extended each other an olive branch last year, when they signed a treaty to delimitate their maritime border in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean after 40 years of negotiations. Due to come into force on July 7, 2011, the document is expected to give an impetus to  full-blown Arctic collaboration between Moscow and Oslo. Anatoly Smirnov again:

"The maritime border treaty will open a new page in Russian-Norwegian relations," Smirnov says, adding that the document is of great geopolitical importance. "The treaty should not be used as a bargaining chip in talks with other nations laying claims in the Arctic region," Smirnov goes on to say, warning against what he describes as “Arctic games”. "All the more so that global warming continues to melt the sea ice and opens the Arctic region to commercial navigation."

That the Russian-Norwegian conference is being held in the Norwegian city of Kirkenes is rather symbolic, experts say, adding that it was in Kirkenes, where a declaration on cooperation in the Barents region was signed in 1993. By the way, the city is located just 14 kilometers from the Russian border.

Innovation cooperation goes hand in hand with energy efficiency, which in turn is inseparably linked to energy and environmental security – a concept that should work both in Russia and Norway.



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