Hydrocarbons and Jurisdictional Disputes in the High North: Explaining the Rationale of Norway's High North Policy

FNI Report 11/2008. Lysaker, FNI, 2008, 80 p.

This report is a case study of Norwegian foreign policy in the High North since the year 2000. There has been an increasing interest towards the region’s hydrocarbon resources in recent years, and the current Norwegian government has initiated a High North Policy and made the region its most important strategic priority. Norway claims sovereignty to thirty percent of European land and sea areas, but some of its claims over maritime areas are disputed. This report seeks to explain the rationale of Norway’s High North Policy concerning three cases where Norway’s claims are challenged, and examine how it conflicts and converges with the interests of other states in the region. The three cases are: the disputed area in the Barents Sea, the Svalbard shelf and the areas concerned in the Norwegian continental shelf submission to the UN. The report is based on written sources as well as nine in-depth interviews with officials of the Norwegian ministries of foreign affairs and defence, as well as Oslo-based diplomats of the European Commission, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Russian Federation and the USA.