Norway's Arctic militarisation
(Euractiv via Environmental News Network, 7 April 2012) -- Norwegian and Russian energy relations might be put at risk when it comes to the exploration and acquisition of untapped energy resources in the Arctic with both countries increasing their militarisation in the area, according to Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based global intelligence company providing geopolitical analysis and commentary. "Norwegian Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide indicated March 28 that the Norwegian army 2nd Battalion would be renamed the "Arctic Battalion" and equipped to patrol the country's Arctic territory. ... The Arctic, which is estimated to hold vast untapped oil and natural gas reserves, has become more relevant to geopolitics over the past decade. ...Norway and Russia have been highlighting their territorial claims in preparation for potential mineral extraction. Competition in the Arctic will strain the countries' relationship, though a hard break in relations is unlikely as long as both benefit from bilateral cooperation, such as between their state energy companies, Statoil and Gazprom. However, Norway will work to contain Russia's influence in the Arctic by strengthening its military partnerships with other countries in the region. Norway's latest plans are part of a decade-long programme to modernise its military, with a stronger focus on the Arctic and Russia.... Russia ... has been operating along routinely for decades, [and] already has strong military capabilities there. Despite this militarisation, Russia and Norway continue their cooperation in the energy sphere. Lacking significant offshore arctic drilling technology, Gazprom relies on Statoil's technological capacity to develop Russia's Shtokman project in the Barents Sea.... The countries also continue a cooperative military relationship, exemplified by the POMOR annual naval exercises held in May. The true test of this working relationship in the Arctic will be the exploration and acquisition of untapped energy resources. At that point, the extent of the cooperation between Statoil and Gazprom will be an important indicator of the countries' wider bilateral relationship."
Posted 7 April 2012; 1:14:33 PM. Permalink
Tagged: April12, Autonomy, policy and politics, Circumpolar matters, Circumpolar News, Norway, Oil and gas, mining