Norway gives Israel a cold shoulder over off shore petroleum industry

The technical journal, Teknisk ukeblad brings us this story on how Norway has rebuffed Israel over its request to send a delegation to Norway to learn more about the Norwegian oil development model

After the discovery of large quantities of gas in sea off Israel last year, the country has been eager to exploit its hydrocarbon industry.
Earlier this year, the Israeli embassy in Oslo requested permission from the Norwegian government to send a delegation to Norway to learn about the Norwegian administrative model.
The Foreign Ministry responded to the inquiry with reference to the Norwegian attitude in relation to marine areas with unresolved or contentious jurisdiction, a reply which was perceived as a cold shoulder from many actors.

Such actors include Norwegian opposition politicians; the spokesperson on energy, Siri Meling from the Conservative party says this:

– The Norwegian administrative model for the petroleum sector is in many ways a success story, and several countries have wanted to learn from Norway. I am puzzled by UD unfriendly reply to Israelis’ request to send a delegation to Norway to learn about the Norwegian administrative model, arguing that the waters off Israel are unresolved or subject contentious jurisdiction.

She would have accepted the Ministry’s reasoning  if the request was for active participation in the establishment of the activity in these areas.
But all Israel asks for is help to build up a management regime. I agree with Jørund Rytman of the Progressive Party that Norway should also offer to use its experience with Russia over the long unresolved maritime border there to facilitate the resolution of international limits in these maritime [the contested maritime areas between Israel/Cyprus vs Lebanon], so that all States with a stake in the area, have the opportunity to exploit the resource potential there, says Meling.

Jørund Rytman, an MP for the Progressive Party and leader of the Friends of Israel in the Norwegian Parliament, had this to say about Norway’s attitude:

– It is sad that Norway is so reticent, and missing the opportunity to be proactive in this  case, not least in view of the experience we have in gas and oil industry.
However, Rytman is is still an optimist, and hopes there will be a delegation from Israel to Norway.

With regards to the government’s objection to the Israeli gas find in areas that are partially contested, Rytman offers the following comment:
– Our experience with the maritime border with Russia would suggest that we could help Israel, and perhaps contribute towards solutions. This is why should Norway have been more active in this matter, and offered our expertise.

The leader of the Norwegian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Dag Abrahamsen, hopes that  the Israeli authorities will send a delegation to Norway to look at our oil and gas industry.

In my view, the present government does not seem to have great cooperation with Israel, even though there is no official Norwegian policy toboycott the country. One may wonder if there is an underlying political agenda which stops the initiative, says Abrahamsen.
The Norwegian authorities point out that the reason they are negative is because gas discoveries have been made in areas that are controversial and unresolved. What are your views on this?

– This is the same as  if other nations’ governments would not cooperate with Norway, because we have had unresolved maritime border issues with Russia.
Only a very small portion of the areas in the Mediterranean where Israel has made its gas discoveries, fall within disputed areas. Most of the discoveries are clearly within Israel’s international borders, Dag Abrahamsen says.