‘These agreements will ensure clarity and predictability as regards future exploitation of natural resources in the area known as the Banana Hole. The close cooperation between Norway, Iceland and Denmark on the law of the sea has made for a smooth negotiation process,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The three agreements deal with delimitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in the southern part of the Banana Hole, in other words in the area between the Faroe Islands, Iceland, mainland Norway and Jan Mayen. The agreements clarify where the delimitation lines between the Norwegian, Icelandic and Danish areas are to be drawn and thus which state has the sovereign rights to the resources on the seabed.
The negotiations started in 2016, but the three states signed Agreed Minutes on delimitation of the continental shelf ten years earlier, in 2006. At that stage the states were still awaiting the recommendations of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. The Commission issued recommendations to Norway in 2009 and to Iceland and Denmark in 2014 and 2016 respectively. These confirmed the supposition that there was an overlap. The agreements that were negotiated were in line with what was agreed in 2006.
In addition to provisions on delimitation lines, the agreement between Norway and Denmark/the Faroe Islands includes provisions on procedures in the event of finds of transboundary deposits of hydrocarbons or other minerals. For Norway and Iceland, these matters are already regulated by the 2008 agreement concerning transboundary hydrocarbon deposits.
Each of the delimitation agreements will enter into force when both parties to the agreement have ratified it. In Norway, the Storting (Norwegian parliament) must give its consent to ratification before such agreements enter into force.
‘The Government will now start the process of presenting the agreements to the Storting so that they can enter into force,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.