UN court splits waters of Black Sea between Ukraine and Romania

3 February 2009

The United Nation’s top court has ruled that Ukrainian ownership of Serpent Island – a rocky outcrop in the Black Sea – does not entitle the country to exclusive rights to an undersea area, thought to be rich in hydrocarbons, it had disputed for decades with Romania.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) marked the sea border halfway between the territorial waters of the two countries, handing Romania some 80 per cent of the disputed area in a unanimous verdict to which both parties appear to agree, a UN spokesperson said today.

The continental shelf of that area is believed to contain considerable deposits of gas and crude oil, the spokesperson added.

The case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea was opened in 2004 when Romania filed a complaint against Ukraine after half a dozen rounds of bilateral efforts failed to set the limits of the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

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