Norwegian Continental Shelf Gains 235,000 Square Kilometers

Norwegian Continental Shelf
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The UN Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf has submitted its final recommendation for the limits on the Norwegian continental shelf to the north. This means that the size of the seabed for which Norway is responsible for managing natural resources has finally been set.

"This creates a clear distribution of responsibility and predictable terms for the activities in the northern region. This ensures significant rights and responsibilities for Norway in a maritime zone of 235,000 square kilometers," Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store said.

235,000 square kilometers is equivalent to the size of Great Britain.

The recommendation from the Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf is based on documentation on the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea submitted by Norway in 2006. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has been in charge of collecting the necessary data and headed the work to finalize the documentation for the commission.

Most of the area beyond 200 nautical miles is at a sea depth of more than 2,500 meters and on oceanic crust. The presence of oil or gas reserves in these areas is unlikely, according to the NPD.

According to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, all coastal states automatically have a continental shelf stretching 200 nautical miles from the coast. However, many nations, including Norway, have continental shelves that extend further. These states must document their claims before the Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf, where senior geologist Harald Brekke of the NPD is a member. This commission reviews the limits of the continental shelf according to set criteria. A recommendation is then given to the states as to where the limits should be drawn.

The commission has reviewed the documentation and discussed it with Norwegian experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NPD, the Norwegian Mapping Authority and the Universities of Oslo, Bergen and Tromso.

The limits to be set by Norway, based on the recommendation, will be final. The recommendation will not affect questions regarding borders between Norway and neighboring states.

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