* Agree to collection of new seismic data in border zone
* Deal aims to boost petroleum exploration in Arctic Barents
(Adds oil minister quotes, background)
OSLO Nov 28 Russia and Norway have agreed a
deal to acquire new seismic data from the neighbouring
countries' Arctic Barents Sea border region to boost the search
for oil and gas, the Norwegian oil minister told Reuters on
As developed parts of the Norwegian shelf mature, the
Barents Sea and the significant oil and gas reserves that its
unexplored areas are believed to hold become increasingly
crucial to future production.
However, exploration in the Arctic has faced strong
opposition from environmental groups and could be more expensive
to develop because of a lack of existing infrastructure.
"We believe there are significant resources along the
border," Tord Lien, Norway's minister of petroleum and energy,
said after a meeting in Oslo with Russia's natural resources
minister, Sergei Donskoi.
Lien said that an agreement had been reached to allow the
collection of seismic data across the border, adding that he
expects to sign the deal before Dec. 24.
The two countries, which settled a 40-year border dispute in
2010, will also hold discussions on how to split potential
future discoveries that straddle the border.
The so-called unitisation talks will take place in Moscow
during the first half of 2017.
"It is clear that, should we find resources that cross the
border between Norway and Russia, we would have to agree on
unitisation and share the revenues," Lien said.
In May Norway awarded 10 new licences in the so-called 23rd
licensing round for new exploration areas, which for the first
time is granting access to the offshore border zone with Russia.
"We know that one of the (geological) structures is crossing
the border, but we don't know if the resources also do," Lien
Aker BP, Lukoil, Statoil,
Lundin Petroleum, Chevron and ConocoPhillips
are among the companies that have won exploration
licences close to the border.
Others are less enthusiastic, however, with Royal Dutch
Shell, Total and Eni not bidding for
stakes in the recent licensing round.
The two countries have already signed a deal to exchange
older seismic data from the border zone to help to determine
where to drill.
Norway's TGS and PGS, which scan the
seabed for hydrocarbons, could benefit from the increased
activity during a time when oil industry investment spending has
been hit by low crude prices.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Terje Solsvik and