Saturday, June 03, 2006

Welcome Fridtjof Nansen

Yesterday the new frigate Fridtjof Nansen arrived for the first time in Norway and entered the harbour of Oslo to much fanfare.

A lot of money and effort has gone into the five high-tech frigates that Norway ordered with a shipyard in Spain and with the US firm Lockheed Martin.

In a wider sense they can be seen as a symbol of the new importance of what in Oslo is often referred as the High North.

Once an area of military confrontation during the Cold War, it is now developing into an area of increasing also economic importance.

Estimates that probably are wildly optimistic are saying that up towards a quarter of oil and gas reserves not yet found might be located up in the Arctic area.

But even if that is the case there is little doubt that there are vast resources up there. Apart from - of course - those related to fisheries.

Statoil of Norway is close to getting the Snöhvit gas field in production up there, and these weeks there is intense speculation on when and how the Russian authorities will announce their decision on foreign partners in the development of the gigantic Shtokman gas field on the Russian side of the sea border.

It's natural that Norway is then investing into the assets needed to survey and police that vast areas of the North Atlantic.

It's obviously in the interest of Norway - but it's also in the wider European interest.

So we all have reasons to say our welcome to the frigare Fridtjof Nansen.