Foreign companies could gain access to lucrative Arctic oil and gas reserves after Russia and Norway signed a border treaty, ending a 40-year dispute.

According to current laws, only state-controlled Gazprom and oil giant Rosneft hold the right to develop offshore oil and gas deposits in Russia.

However, Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said that his ministry has proposed to expand the list of companies that have the right to develop offshore oil and gas fields.

The disputed territory covers, some 175,000km² in the Barents Sea, reportedly holds 10 billion barrels of equivalent oil and gas deposits.