UN sets Norwegian continental shelf limits

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.

Offshore staff

STAVANGER, Norway -- 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 been set.

"This creates a clear distribution of responsibility and predictable terms for the activities in the northern region," says Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs. "This ensures significant rights and responsibilities for Norway in a maritime zone of 235,000 sq km (90,734 sq mi)."

The recommendation from the Commission is based on documentation on the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea, and the Norwegian Sea submitted by Norway in 2006. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) collected the data and headed the work to finalize documentation for the commission.

According to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, all coastal states automatically have a continental shelf extending 200 nautical miles from the coast. However, many nations, including Norway, have continental shelves that go further. These states must document their claims before the Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf. 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.

Most of the area beyond 200 nautical miles is at a sea depth of more than 2,500 m (8,202 ft) and on oceanic crust. The presence of oil or gas reserves in these areas is unlikely, according to the NPD.

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.

04/17/2009

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