Romania Going to World Court Over Ukraine Oil Dispute

Romania said Thursday it would take a dispute with Ukraine over oil and natural gas exploration rights in the Black Sea to the World Court, officials said.

Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana notified Ukrainian Ambassador Teofil Bauer of the suit on Thursday, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

Romania also demanded Ukraine stop the construction of a shipping channel in the Danube Delta, the same day Ukraine officially inaugurated works on the project, the statement said. Romania controls more than 90% of the delta, the rest is Ukrainian.

The decision to take the oil and gas dispute to the U.N.'s highest legal authority was made earlier in a meeting between Romania's President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and other top officials, the statement said.

Regarding the Ukrainian project in the Danube Delta, Geoana told Bauer that the Ukraine had failed to adequately explain its plans.

The U.S. State Department, the European Union, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the World Wildlife Fund also have criticized Ukraine for pushing ahead with the project.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people protested in Bucharest against the project, saying that it would cause environmental damage.

The U.S. administration maintains that the planned route for the channel will likely cause significant environmental destruction to the Bystre Estuary, an ecologically sensitive area of the Danube Delta.