Dispute over north Atlantic resources continues

The dispute over the ownership of the ocean floor around Rockall, or more precisely, the ownership of the resources said to be hiding beneath it, is continuing. Iceland has reported some progress in recent talks between the disputing nations.

Four countries are involved in the dispute, battling for ownership rights to the area of ocean floor surrounding a small outcrop of rock in the north Atlantic.

Experts estimate that large reserves of oil and gas may be lurking beneath the continental shelf known as Hatton Rockall. Iceland, Britain, Ireland and Denmark (for the Faroe Islands) have all laid their claim to the ownership of the area.

The most recent meeting between the four nations was held in Reykjavik. The next meeting will be in November in Copenhagen.

Tomas Heidar was Iceland’s leader in the talks. He acts as a legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It was a positive meeting and there is growing optimism that a conclusion acceptable to all parties can be reached,” he said.

Although the discussions were productive, according to Heider, they are a long way from reaching a conclusive resolution. “We are still discussing approaches of how to reach solutions rather than direct solutions,” he told Reuters news agency.

Discussion so far is gearing towards a shared ownership of the resources which will allow the four countries to jointly claim the area in front of the United Nations.

“If we do not succeed in reaching an agreement, the natural resources will remain unexploited and an extensive and costly collection of data will have been wasted on nothing,” Heider explained.