Iceland and Greenland to Cooperate on Oil Exploration?

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Iceland and Greenland to Cooperate on Oil Exploration?

Prime Minister of Greenland Kuupik Kleist was on his first official visit to Iceland this week. Greenland is striving for full independence from Denmark and a more solid economy is a prerequisite.

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Kuupik Kleist (left) and Iceland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphédinsson. Courtesy of the ministry.

Greenland has commenced oil exploration and are keen on cooperating with Iceland and Norway in that field. Exploration for oil and gas has begun to the west of Greenland and Kleinst told Morgunbladid exploration to the east of the country might begin in 2012 or 2013.

“It could happen around the same time as the search for oil in your Dragon Zone and Norway’s area nearby begins. There are various opportunities for cooperation between the three countries,” Kleinst said, adding the first step of the collaboration would likely be joint measures for environment protection.

On Monday, Kleist met Iceland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphédinsson. They vowed to increase cooperation between the nations, as is stated on the website of the Icelandic Foreign Ministry.

This concerns both bilateral projects and other affairs concerning the Arctic Region. The interests of Icelanders and Greenlanders are intertwined in many areas and cooperation has increased during past years, for example in healthcare, tourism and air transport.

The ministers discussed matters on energy, the environment and the Arctic Region. They agreed that the Arctic Council's meeting in Greenland last May was a milestone for the council.

An agreement on search and rescue in the Arctic is of special importance. Kleist responded favorably to Skarphédinsson's ideas regarding cooperation towards setting up search and rescue facilities in Iceland.

Skarphédinsson and Kleist also spoke of the importance of making an agreement on measures against oil pollution in the Arctic and that Icelanders and Greenlanders must make a joint effort to bring about such an agreement.

Kleist also met Iceland's Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir and Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon during his stay, in addition to visiting Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, and familiarizing himself with energy affairs and safety and rescue work, etc.

Click here to read more about the Arctic Council and here to read more about the Dragon Zone.

ESA