THE HAGUE (AFP)--The U.N.'s highest court will convene in September to consider a dispute between Romania and Ukraine over hydrocarbon deposits in the Black Sea, a statement said Thursday.
Hearings will be held from Sept. 2 to 19 at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the tribunal said.
Romania instituted proceedings against its neighbor in September 2004 after six years of negotiations failed to resolve the issue.
The dispute concerns an area of 14,000 square kilometers, and plans by Kiev to create an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the small Serpents Island, where natural gas and oil deposits are thought to be concentrated.
Serpents Island, which is only 17-hectares, belonged to Romania until 1948, when it was ceded to the Soviet Union.
Without questioning Ukraine's ownership of the islet, Romanian authorities objected to Kiev's efforts to change its legal status by presenting it as an island enjoying "its own economic life" and thus a right to an EEZ.
Romania has described the island as a "rock with no source of water or vegetation".
The court's statement said the hearing concerned "the establishment of a single maritime boundary between the two states in the Black Sea, thereby delimiting the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones appertaining to them".
The ICJ is the highest court of the United Nations, set up to rule on disputes between states. Cases can take years to reach conclusion.