OSLO (Reuters) - Norway intends to expand surveys of a previously disputed area in the Arctic offshore region bordering Russian waters ahead of potential oil exploration, Norway's prime minister said on Wednesday.
The country's seismic survey program began last summer in the boundary waters of the Barents Sea and will now move north, to an area east of the Svalbard archipelego, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said.
The more northerly part of the survey program will start this summer and continue into 2013.
"The area near the maritime delimitation line between Norway and Russia may contain significant oil and gas resources," Stoltenerg said in a statement.
The designated zone abuts the north-south sea boundary with Russia that took effect on July 7, 2011, after 40 years of dispute, and extends north to just above 74 degrees latitude.
(Reporting By Victoria Klesty; editing by Keiron Henderson)