Russia, Norway sign deal on Barents Sea border, seek more development in mineral-rich Arctic

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia and Norway have signed an agreement to delineate their border in the energy-rich Barents Sea, ending a dispute that has dragged on for decades.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said after Wednesday's signing the deal would strengthen stability in the region and enhance economic cooperation between the two neighbors.

Interest in the Arctic region is intensifying as global warming shrinks the sea ice that blocks shipping and oil exploration.

The two countries have already begun tapping mineral riches buried beneath the floor of the Barents Sea.

The Norwegian oil company Statoil brought its Snoehvit natural gas field on line in 2007. Meanwhile, Russia's Gazprom, in conjunction with Statoil and France's Total, is developing the Shtokman gas field.