Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson (R) meets with China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao at Bessastadir, 20 April 2012. China and Iceland announced a deal on the oil-rich Arctic region after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew in to Reykjavik on the first stage of a four-nation European tour. AFP

REYKJAVIK, 21 April 2012 (AFP) – China and Iceland announced a deal on the oil-rich Arctic region Friday after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew in to Reykjavik on the first stage of a four-nation European tour.

The deal was part of a package of six agreements signed on the first day of the Chinese premier’s visit to the country, during which he held talks with his Icelandic counterpart Johanna Sigurdardottir.

The Arctic’s oil reserves were high on the agenda for energy-hungry China during the high-powered delegation’s visit to Iceland—though Sigurdardottir touted the Arctic deal as a research collaboration.

“These agreements will provide various opportunities for increased cooperation on research between Icelandic and Chinese scientists in this area,” her office said on its website.

Iceland’s strategic location near the Arctic has not gone unnoticed in China, the world’s biggest energy consumer: the shrinking of the polar ice cap is making the region’s mineral resources more accessible.

The retreat of the ice has also opened up the potential for a shorter cargo shipping route with Asia, which would cut the sea voyage between Shanghai and northern Europe by some 6,400 kilometers. […]

China, Iceland announce deal on oil-rich Arctic via The Oil Drum

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