The Barents Sea Conflict: Russia and Norway Competing Over Fossil Fuel Riches in the Arctic

By Niklas Witte
2013, Vol. 5 No. 09 | pg. 5/5 |

The Negotiation Process

The final element of Ghauri's negotiation framework analyses the different negotiation stages. Moe et. al. (2011) note that due to political and environmental sensitivity, a large part of the historic negotiation, particularly pre 2000, but largely up to the very end of the negotiations has been kept secret and is not very well documented. This also explains why the final agreement in 2010 came as a surprise to both, public and experts, alike.

This makes it impossible to asses both the pre- and face-to-face negotiation process based on reliable data sources. The limited insights we have are based on provisional agreements established throughout the negotiation and the final agreement between both nations. Elferink (1993) argues that 'the nature of a provisional arrangement may influence the willingness of states to make concessions in the final negotiations.' Meaning that once one nation starts making concessions, this may be seen as weakness and influence the overall outcome of the final agreement. As such Norway turned down a cooperation agreement for exploring petroleum resources by the Soviet Union in 1988, because they felt it would have required too many concessions on their part (Elferink, 1993). Similar attempts throughout the negotiation stipulate a conflict driven process.

The final treaty divides the Barents Sea in almost equal parts, which is a success for Norway, since original demands by Russia were for 75% ownership on the Russian side. It also calls for Norwegian support of the Russian Oil exploration, explaining why Russia was willing to make concession on the territorial claims. Moe et. al. (2011) provide a variety of suggestions as to why Russia finally made concessions to reach a final arrangement. Some suggestions are of a resource perspective, but they also argue that in the wake of increasing international attention on this conflict, Russia wanted to be 'seen as a constructive international actor.' Moe et. al. (2011) eventually conclude that it was Russia's drive to 'clear up territorial disputes' in order to 'improve Russia's image as a rule abiding player in the international arena' which has led to the concessions and eventual conclusion of the conflict.


The Barents Sea treaty and above explanations provide evidence for my hypothesis regarding the influence of international third party coalitions and media attention on the final negotiation outcome. The agreement also supports the argument for culture as a significant moderator, especially since Russia's drive to reach an agreement, growing interest in building relationships, the extended time horizon as well as the sudden conclusion of the conflict can all be justified by the national culture argument. The Power dependency between the parties has also notably been affected by culture; further research into causal mechanisms regarding this issue would be useful. Ott's (2011) bargaining scenarios, although developed for business negotiations have proved valid in this geopolitical negotiation scenario. We have seen that even though Ghauri's framework was not designed and tested to assess this kind of negotiation, once extended by the use of various other frameworks it has provided valuable insight to the discussion.

It remains to be seen if the Barents Sea agreement lasts into the future and cooperation can be sustained, but recent efforts by both countries in cooperatively exploring petroleum resources in the Barents Sea region seem to indicate a stable relationship (Bradbury, 2012; Carstens, 2012; Oil & Gas Journal, 2012).


Agnew, J. A., 2001. Reinventing geopolitics: Geographies of modern statehood. (Hettner-Lecture 2000), Published by: Department of Geography, University of Heidelberg.

Allen, P. and Ridley, J., 2011. The 'cold rush': industrialisation in the Arctic - interactive. The Guardian. [online] Available at: (Accessed 17th February 2012)

Austvik, O. G., 2007. The Geopolitics of Barents Sea Oil and Gas: the Mouse and the Bear. International Association for Energy Economics. [online] Available at: (Accessed 9th March 2012).

Bannon, I. and Collier, P., 2003. Natural Resources and Violent Conflict – Actions and Options. Washington DC:World Bank.

Betsill, M. M. and Corell, E., 2001. NGO Influence in International Environmental Negotiations: A framework for Analysis. Global Environmental Politics, 1 (4), pp.65-86.

Bradbury, J., 2012. Partners plan new Barents Sea exploration push. Offshore International [online] Available at: (Accessed 16th May 2012).

Bülow, A. M. and Kumar, R., 2011. Culture and Negotiation. International Negotiation, 16, pp.349-359.

Carstens, H., 2012. Exploration: The Barents Sea – discovering a new oil & gas province… . Oil Edge [online] Available at: (Accessed 16th May 2012).

CIA, 2012. The World FactBook - Norway. Central Intelligence Agency. [online] Available at: (Accessed 10th May 2012).

Clark, A. M., 1995. Non-Governmental Organizations and their Influence on International Society. Journal of International Affairs, 48 (2), pp.507-525.

Cohen, R. and Meerts, P., 2008. The Evolution of International Negotiation Processes. International Negotiations, 13, pp.149-156.

Collier, P. and Hoeffler, A., 2005. Resource Rents, Governance and Conflict. Journal of Conflict and Resolution, 49 (4), pp.625-633.

Elferink, A. G., 1993. The Influence of Provisional Arrangements on Negotiations on the Delimitation of Maritime Boundaries. [Boundary and Security Bulletin]. April 1993. International Boundaries Research Unit, Durham University.

Ghauri, P. N., 2003. A framework for International Business Negotiations; in Ghauri, P. N. and Usunier, J.C., 2003. International Business Negotiations. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd., 2nd ed., p.3-22.

Hall, E. T., 1959. The Silent Language. New York: Doubleday Publishing.

Henriksen, T. and Ulfstein, G., 2011. Maritime Delimitation in the Arctic: The Barents Sea Treaty. Ocean Development & International Law, 42, pp.1-21.

Hofstede, G., 1984. Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, 2nd ed. SAGE Publishing.

Hofstede, G., 2001. Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations, 2nd ed., Thousand Oaks, CA, USA: SAGE Publishing.

Huntington, S. P., 1996. The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order, in Imai, L. & Gelfand, M. J., 2010, The culturally intelligent negotiator: The impact of cultural intelligence (CQ) on negotiation sequences and outcomes. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes. Article in Press.

IEA, 2011. Oil & Gas Security - Norway. International Energy Agency. [online] Available at: (Accessed 27th April 2012).

Kehl, J. R., 2010. Oil, Water, Blood and Diamonds: International Intervention in Resource Disputes. International Negotiation, 15, pp.391-412.

Kirkman, B. L., Lowe, K. B. and Gibson, C. B., 2006. A quarter century of Culture's Consequences: a review of empirical research incorporating Hofstede's cultural values framework. Journal of International Business Studies, 37, pp.285-320.

Klare, M., 2001. Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict. New York: Henry Holt and Company Publishing.

Lewis, R. D., 2006. When Cultures Collide. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

MacAlister, T., 2010. Climate change could lead to Arctic conflict, warn senior Nato commander. The Guardian. [online] Available at: (Accessed 17th February 2012)

Mannix, E. A. and Neale, M. A., 1993. Power Imbalance and the Pattern of Exchange in Dyadic Negotiation. Group Decision and Negotiation, 2, pp.119-133.

Metcalf, L. E. and Bird, A., 2003. Cultural Influences on Negotiation Behaviors: Resurrecting and Revitalizing an Overlooked Framework. Academy of International Business, Annual Meeting, 5th - 8th July 2003. Monterey, CA, USA.

Metcalf, L. E., Bird, A., Peterson, M.F., Shankarmahesh, M. and Lituchy, T. R., 2007. Cultural Influences in Negotiations: A Four Country Comparative Analysis. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 7 (2), pp.147-168.

Meyer, G., 2012. Refined out of existence. Financial Times UK, 10th April 2012, p.11.

Moe, A., Fjaertoft, D. and Overland, I., 2011. Space and timing: why was the Barents Sea delimitation dispute resolved in 2010? Polar Geography, 34 (3), pp.145-162.

Nicola, S., 2010. Expert: Norway-Russian Arctic deal is near. United Press International. [online] Available at: (Accessed 9th March 2012)

Oil & Gas Journal, 2012. Eni-Rosneft Pact covers Barents, Black Sea exploration. Oil & Gas Journal [online] Available at: (Accessed 16th May 2012).

Ott, U. F., 2010. The Art and Economics of International Negotiations. Loughborough University. 23rd Annual International Association of Conflict Management Conference. Boston, Massachusetts 24th-27th June.

Ott, U. F., 2011. The Influence of Cultural Activity Types on Buyer-Seller Negotiations: A Game Theoretical Framework for Intercultural Negotiations. International Negotiation, 16, pp.427-450.

Palmer, J. A., Suggate, J., Bajd, B., Hart, P., Roger, K. P., Ofwono-Orecho, J. K. W., Peries, M. Robottom, I., Tsaliki, E. and van Staden, C., 2006. An Overview of Significant Influences and Formative Experiences on the Development of Adults' Environmental Awareness in Nine Countries. Environmental Education Research, 4(4), pp.445-464.

Reynolds, N., Simintiras, A. and Vlachou, E., 2003. International Business Negotiations: Present Knowledge and Direction for Future Research; in Weiss, S. E., 2006. International Business Negotiation in a Globalizing World: Reflections on the Contributions and Future of a (Sub) Field. International Negotiation, 11, p.287-316.

Ritter, C., 2008. Integrating culture and knowledge into the corporate structure. German Association for Technical Communication and Information Development. [online] Available at: (Accessed 16th May 2012)

Roloff, M., Tutzauer, F. and Dailey, W., 1987. The Role of Argumentation in Distributive and Integrative Bargaining Contexts; in Mannix, E. A. and Neale, M. A., 1993. Power Imbalance and the Pattern of Exchange in Dyadic Negotiation. Group Decision and Negotiation, 2, pp.119-133.

Russia Today, 2011. Russia and Norway end historic dispute over Arctic border. Russia Today [online] Available at: (Accessed 9th March 2012)

Salacuse, J. W., 1991. Making Global Deals: Negotiating in the International Marketplace. Boston. MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Salacuse, J. W., 1998. Ten Ways that Culture Affects Negotiation Style: Some Survey Results. Negotiation Journal, 14 (3), pp.221-240.

Schiavone, A., 2000. The end of the past: ancient Rome and the modern West; in Agnew, J. A., 2001. Reinventing geopolitics: Geographies of modern statehood. (Hettner-Lecture 2000), Published by: Department of Geography, University of Heidelberg.

Traynor, I., 2008a. Climate change may spark conflict with Russia, EU told: Alert over scramble for control over energy resources in the Arctic. The Guardian. [online] Available at: (Accessed 16th February 2012).

Traynor, I., 2008b. Europe takes first step towards 'Arctic policy' to protect energy security. The Guardian. [online] Available at: (Accessed 17th February 2012)

Usunier, J.-C., 2003. Cultural aspects of international business negotiations; in Ghauri, P. N. and Usunier, J.-C., International Business Negotiations. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd., pp.97-136.

Viroli, M., 1992. From politics to reason of state: the acquisition and transformation of the language of politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Walker, M. B., 1973. Caplow's Theory of Coalitions in the Triad reconsidered. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27 (3), pp.409-412.

Weiss, S. E., 1993. Analysis of Complex Negotiations in International Business: The RBC Perspective. Organization Science, 4 (2), pp.269-300.

Weiss, S. E., 2004. International Business Negotiations Research: Revisiting "Bricks, Mortar and Prospects"; in Shenkar, O. and Punnett, B. J., 2004. The Handbook of International Management Research, pp.415-474. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Weiss, S. E., 2006. International Business Negotiation in a Globalizing World: Reflections on the Contributions and Future of a (Sub) Field. International Negotiation, 11, p.287-316.

Weiss, S. E. and Stripp, W., 1985. Negotiating with Foreign Businesspersons: An Introduction for Americans with Propositions on Six Cultures, Working Paper No. 85-6; in Metcalf, L. E., Bird, A., Peterson, M.F., Shankarmahesh, M. and Lituchy, T. R., 2007. Cultural Influences in Negotiations: A Four Country Comparative Analysis. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 7 (2), pp.147-168.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

Vietnam is becoming an increasingly inviting market for foreign investment. However, working with foreigners and expanding business abroad can be risky for all parties involved. The diversity among business cultures frequently... MORE»
The level of displacement surrounding the Israel-Palestinian conflict is astounding. At this point there are over nine million Palestinian refugees scattered throughout the globe (King-Irani 924,). Arguing that their situation is dehumanizing and infringes upon their human rights, Palestinians have consistently demanded the right of return as a prerequisite for peace negotiations (Tovy 40... MORE»
The responsibility of Georgian President Michael Saakashvili for the war with Russia continued to be hotly debated in Georgia, Russia and the world several months after its end.1 Indeed, there are various views about Saakashvili... MORE»
Climate change negotiations have been on the international stage for almost four decades. They have a complex history, and act as a comprehensive example of the many variables, obstacles, environments, and processes that can affect any international negotiation. This paper examines the structure of international negotiations through the lens of the Montreal (1987), Kyoto (1997), and Copenhagen... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow IJ

Latest in International Affairs

2022, Vol. 14 No. 04
With over 10 million stateless people globally, statelessness has increasingly become a pressing issue in international law. The production of statelessness occurs across multiple lines including technical loopholes, state succession, and discriminatory... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 09
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated current global challenges. However, this article argues that this time of crisis can also be a unique opportunity for the existing global economic institutions - G20, WTO, IMF, and World Bank (WB) - to make the... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 02
On January 1st, 1959, a small band of Cuban rebels shocked the world, overthrowing the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. These rebels were especially known for their guerrilla tactics and their leaders, such as Fidel Castro and Ernesto... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 01
Israel has increased the nation’s security presence around the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. Here, the research project analyzes how transaction costs resulting from Israeli security policy impact the output of manufacturing activities... Read Article »
2020, Vol. 12 No. 09
The necessity of international relief is unending as new crises continue to emerge across the world. International aid plays a crucial role in shaping how affected communities rebuild after a crisis. However, humanitarian aid often results in a... Read Article »
2019, Vol. 11 No. 10
This article aims to present the biopiracy of traditional knowledge from India by the United States, which has occurred directly through the use of patent law and indirectly through economic power and cultural imperialism. Throughout this essay,... Read Article »
2018, Vol. 10 No. 10
After joining the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2004, Estonians felt secure and in charge of their future. However, following the 2007 Bronze Horseman incident in the Estonian capital of Tallinn which included... Read Article »

What are you looking for?


Presentation Tips 101 (Video)
7 Big Differences Between College and Graduate School
Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement