The High North has the potential to become a new and promising oil and gas region. Though large areas of the High North remain unexplored, there are reasons to believe that it contains vast petroleum resources. Norway and Russia are two of the world’s leading petroleum producers, and the resources of the High North have the potential to further increase the countries’ position as large petroleum producers. Furthermore, Russia and Norway are neighbouring countries that share a tense past from the Cold War. Today, the differences between the West and the East have faded, and Russia and Norway interact peacefully on a number of issue area. However, whereas Norway is small state, Russia is a great country. Consequently, there will always exist an asymmetrical relationship between the two.
This thesis seeks to examine the relationship between Norway and Russia in the High North, with regard to petroleum cooperation. More precisely, the thesis aims to explore if and how petroleum cooperation may affect the two countries’ room of manoeuvre in the field of security policy, vis-à-vis each other. The research is conducted by the use of interpretive case method. Empirical data has been collected through secondary sources, and analyzed through the lenses of neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism.
The conclusion derived from the analysis argues that bilateral cooperation between Russia and Norway may enlarge Russia’s room of manoeuvre while limiting Norway’s. For Norway to avoid such a situation, it can either not engage in cooperation with Russia, or do it in a multilateral framework, rooted in institutional rules and laws.