* Disputed Barents Sea border region rich in oil, gas
* Medvedev to push for development of Shtokman gas project
By Denis Dyomkin
OSLO, April 26 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
said it was possible to secure a deal with Norway over a
disputed Barents Sea border region, whose delineation could
unlock access to oil and gas resources.
Medvedev arrived in Oslo on Monday for a two-day visit with
the Barents Sea border debate high on the agenda, but both sides
have played down the prospects of a final accord.
The decades-old dispute has meant both sides have kept on
ice oil and gas exploration in a maritime region half the size
of Germany, sandwiched between proven oil and gas resources in
Norwegian and Russian waters.
"It is necessary to find a solution that makes it possible
to define both zones," Medvedev told Norwegian daily Aftenposten
in a weekend interview. "I regard that as absolutely possible."
Kremlin foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko told
reporters that only some 7,000 sq km out of a total of 560,000
sq km in the "southern part" of the zone remained to be agreed
upon. The two sides made a deal over a tiny fjord inlet at the
southern tip of the region in 2007.
The disputed zone is between the Shtokman gas discovery on
the Russian side -- a huge reservoir which holds enough gas to
meet global demand for a year -- and two promising oil and gas
fields on the Norwegian side.
Norway's energy champion Statoil (STL.OL), as well as fellow
minority partner Total (TOTF.PA) of France, are helping develop
the Gazprom-run (GAZP.MM) Shtokman project due to supply gas to
Europe and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the United States.
"The question here is to find the right date to begin the
project stage for the construction," Medvedev told Aftenposten
about the Shtokman project. "If this will be done in 2010 or
2011, is not that important in principle."
The discovery of shale gas in the United States has lowered
energy prices and limited need for LNG imports, putting a
question mark over the need to rapidly start the technically
challenging and costly Shtokman project.
Medvedev, who will also visit Denmark, is due to discuss
Arctic fishing issues and economic cooperation in Europe's
northernmost region, where Russia and Norway share a 180-km land
(Writing by Wojciech Moskwa; Editing by Janet Lawrence)