Oslo: A diplomatic row has broken out as Russia says Norway is violating the Svalbard Treaty with the Norwgian government opening three new blocks for oil drilling in the Barents Sea.
Russia believes the blocks that where announced in the 23rd licensing round in January belong to the Svalbard continental shelf and that production of oil and gas there should be regulated by the Svalbard Treaty.
In the Svalbard Treaty Norway and 39 other countries have the same rights to operate in the archipelago, provided that they comply with Norwegian law.
With Russia’s diplomatic protest, the environmental movement has gained a powerful ally against drilling in the area.
In order not to increase the tension between Norway and Russia, Norway should let the disputed blocks lie, said Bellona president Frederic Hauge. Bellona is a powerful Norwegian government watchdog .