THE HAGUE (AFP) - Romania and Ukraine hailed a ruling by the UN's highest court Tuesday defining their border on the Black Sea, ending a decades-old spat over a maritime area said to contain oil and gas. In a unanimous verdict, the International Court of Justice in The Hague marked a border more or less halfway between the territorial waters of the two nations, defining the new continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of each. According to Romania's representative at the court, Bogdan Aurescu, the court handed Bucharest some 80pc or 9,700 square km of the disputed area. Romania had wanted the line to be drawn further north-east in the disputed area, closer to the Ukrainian land border, while Ukraine wanted it further south-west. "It's the end of the dispute," Aurescu told reporters after the verdict. "This is a positive example of how two states can solve their problems." The Ukraine's representative Oleksandr Kupchyshyn, described the ruling as "wise and a compromise", adding: "We are satisfied with the decision of the court." Romania took the matter to the UN court in 2004 after six years of bilateral negotiations failed to yield a compromise over the boundary of the Black Sea's continent shelf " a source of economic rivalry for decades. Oral arguments were heard in September, centred on the area around the Serpents' Island where natural gas and oil deposits are thought to be concentrated. The uninhabited 17-hectare (42-acre) islet, some 20 nautical miles off the Danube delta, was owned by Romania until 1948 when it was ceded to the then Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which used it as a military base, the Serpents' Island formally became part of the territory of newly-independent Ukraine. Romania opposed plans by Kiev to enlarge its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the area in the north-western part of the Black Sea, which Romanian experts have estimated may contain 100 billion cubic metres of gas " enough to keep the country independent of Russian gas for two decades. In its judgment, the court drew a line from the point where the Ukraine's 12-mile territorial line around the Serpents' Island and Romania's 12-mile territorial line, meet in the Black Sea. The line then follows a curved path equidistant from the two coastlines. Asked how much gas was in the area awarded to Romania, Aurescu said: "The experts still have to determine that". On a visit to Hungary, Romanian President Traian Basescu said the ruling was "a big success for Romania's foreign ministry." And Romanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu said he hoped that Bucharest and Kiev can put the dispute behind them and focus instead on boosting "bilateral and good neighbourly relations."