The Arctic This Week: 24 October -30 October 2013

The Arctic This Week 2013:39

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Let’s start this week with an article by Scott Minerd for Alaska Dispatch,“We must avoid seeing the Arctic through an Old World lens,”that calls for a switch in Arctic rhetoric. Instead of being the “last frontier” where regions and nations vie for their own interest, Minerd sees the Arctic as a New World: we should cease to “define the region’s future with the vocabulary of the past” (be it the Age of Exploration or the Cold War) if we are to discover this “New World of the Arctic.”

In reality, however, resource interests are prevalent in the Arctic. Patrick Kiger takes a look at the Akademik Lomonosov, a floating nuclear power station being constructed by Russian state-controlled Rosatom. While the idea of floating, portable nuclear power stations is not new (the U.S. had it in the Panama Canal in 1970s), their potential to provide affordable, mobile power has rarely been realized. The irony, as Kiger points out, is that the Akademik Lomonosov is being built not for the sake of providing power generation to residents in remote regions, but to fuel exploration and production of hydrocarbons in the Russian Arctic (National Geographic). Next, see this concise article by the Arctic Institute’s own Andreas Østhagen on the importance of regional interests within Arctic states in driving oil and gas development in the Arctic (TAI).

After last week’s vote to approve uranium mining in Greenland and approval of large new iron mine south of the capital Nuuk, an editorial in the Arctic Journal cautions Greenlanders that the rapid expansion of the region’s mining sector also carries the risk of increased levels of corruption and lack of accountability.

In a typically trenchant article, Adm. James Stavridis (Ret) provides four policy prescriptions for the U.S. against the potential of conflict in the high north. Stavridis recommends investing in both icebreakers and naval platforms and monitoring technology, increasing involvement with the Arctic Council, and working closely with Russia on Arctic Issues (

Turning to Arctic infrastructure: Arctic Fibre has filed the final regulatory documents necessary to gain approval for a proposed $600-million fiber-optic line through the Northwest Passage from Japan to Newfoundland, stretching some 15,700 km. As part of the project, seven landing points have been proposed at Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Cape Dorset, and Iqaluit, which would bring high-speed broadband to the Canadian Arctic (HuffPo CA, MetroNews, AD, and Arctic Fibre).

In the science news this week, check out the articles on the polar bears sticking around Resolute Bay, Canada. Usually, they migrate away from the hamlet at this time of the year. Tabatha Mullins, the mayor, suspects that they are after easy food from the community’s dump site (NN), and it’s keeping the polar bear patrols very busy (EOTA).

In the business section, Ingo Heidbrink provides a historical perspective of selected Atlantic fishing industries and Arctic regions, including nationalization of Arctic fisheries and conflicts between large-scale industrialized fisheries and subsistence fisheries (AY).

In sports news, check out Arab News as it follows the Somali national bandy team as it travels from Sweden to Irkutsk to compete in the 2014 World Bandy Championship.



Norway’s new foreign minister Børge Brende hosted this week’s Barents Euro-Arctic Council meeting in Tromsø, Norway (Gov’t of Norway). The meeting marks the end of Norway’s two-year chairmanship of the council. Finland, chair of the council from 2005-2007, will hold the next chairmanship (BEAC website). Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was scheduled to attend the event (BO), but his deputy minister, Vladimir Titov attended in his place (AIR, in Russian).

Many of the newest Arctic Council permanent observers were featured in this week’s Arctic news: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited Finland last week, signing a deal to expand cooperation on nuclear energy between the two nations (Yonhap News) and hoping to utilize Finland’s Arctic expertise in the Northern Sea Route (Helsinki Times). India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd. is interested in exploring Arctic hydrocarbon deposits (AIR, in Russian), and a Chinese Foreign Ministry official prioritized environmental concerns over Arctic resource development while visiting Whitehorse, Canada (Want China News). A post by Mia Bennett for Foreign Policy Blogs also cites Singapore as the “dark horse” that “stole the show” at this month’s Arctic Circle assembly. You can read in-depth articles about India and China’s Arctic interests in this year’s Arctic Yearbook.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has said that it will consider the Netherlands’ legal action against Russia, despite the Russian government’s decision to opt out of the proceedings, which begin on November 6 (BBC). The Netherlands’ claims that Russia violated its freedom of navigation by boarding the Arctic Sunrise outside the Russian territorial waters (BO), but has said that it would be willing to drop the lawsuit if Russia releases the “Arctic 30” (Gov’t of the Netherlands). Last Wednesday, Russian investigators dropped the piracy charges against the “Arctic 30,” instead charging them of organized hooliganism (NYT). The lesser offense carries a maximum sentence of seven (compared to piracy’s fifteen) years (The Guardian). Greenpeace Russia’s Vladimir Chuprov responded to the new charges in a press release, claiming “The Arctic 30 are no more hooligans than they were pirates,” and maintained that the accusations were still “wildly disproportionate.” For an interesting perspective on the wider international legal issues surrounding the Arctic 30 arrests and the Netherland’s legal action against Russia, check out this post in The Huffington Post Blog by Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey.

In other international news, the US police are investigating Yury Zaytsev for allegedly recruiting American citizens as intelligence assets, a claim forcefully denied by the Russian Foreign Ministry (ADN).The European Commission is seeking to open up a dialogue with Arctic indigenous peoples, evidenced by Brussels’ recent Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue conference earlier this month (, in Danish). The Geographic Journal and National Geographic have published articles on the UK’s recent Arctic Policy Framework. Finally, Phosagro, a Russian fertilizer company, has been implicated in a major corruption case in Norway against Yara, a Norwegian company that also produces fertilizer (BO).

Russia recently published a study on Arctic development which analyses the presence of Arctic-related topics in the Russian and foreign media. The study, which claims “the geopolitical value of the Arctic in recent years has increased markedly” (Google-translated from the original Russian), points to the Northern Sea Route as this year’s most popular topic among Russian news outlets, and cites China’s Arctic ambitions at the top of foreign stories. The Russian government has said that it plans to invest significant resources towards developing its Arctic (ITAR-TASS), a region whose boundaries are set to be outlined early next month (AIR, in Russian).

In Barents regional news, Russian media outlets reported that Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun had been placed on a list of regional leaders that are likely to be dismissed. Kovtun rebuffed the speculations, claiming that they were “not based on facts” (BO). Dmitry Bezdelov, leader of the Federal Agency on Development of the State Border, was, in fact, dismissed last week (BO). Bezdelov is suspected of mismanaging federal funds.


At the national level, Canadian Arctic-related news was generally focused on two topics: the Conservative government’s Speech from the Throne on October 16 and the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials’ recent meeting in Whitehorse. Last week, The Globe and Mail’s Josh Wingrove reported, “After a Throne Speech that pledged a focus on the North, Environment Minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq is Yukon-bound to kick off Canada’s term at the helm of the international Arctic Council.” The link between the two is less apparent than Mr. Wingrove points out, at least according to Open Canada’s Robert Murray or Nunatsiaq News’s Peter Varga. Canada’s two-year Arctic Council chairmanship received no mention in the speech, which announced a return to the tried-but-not-quite-true “Canada First” strategy of 2008. At the meeting, officials reportedly pledged to focus on gender equality, mental illness, climate change adaptation, living conditions in the North (G&M), funding for Arctic research (CBC), and oil-spill preparedness (France 24, in French), while the WWF urged the council to continue to focus on maritime protection. For more analysis on Canada’s chairmanship, see this article in the Spring/Summer issue of Nexus. For more on the Arctic Council, see this appraisal of the Swedish chairmanship and this commentary on the council’s permanent secretariat, both are in The Arctic Yearbook 2013.

At the local level, Nunavut holds its elections this week (National News Watch), and Wood Buffalo reelected Mayor Melissa Blake (NJ). Canadians made their voices heard by demanding a higher proportion of resource revenue be placed in the Heritage Fund in Fort Smith (NJ) and challenged Health Minister Tom Beaulieu’s closure of an addictions treatment center in Hay River (NJ). They also protested against the zoning change of a government dock in Old Town, Yellowknife (NJ).

United States

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission held two days of hearings last week in Fairbanks. At the hearings, the staff of the University of Alaska Fairbanks made policy recommendations to the commission in advance of a report due next year (FNM). State Senator Lesil McGuire, who co-chairs the commission, hopes its work will establish an Arctic policy for the state and develop a bill establishing a deep-water port (Daily Journal).

An article by David Kashi in the International Business Times connects The President’s Climate Action Plan and The National Strategy for the Arctic Region (both released this spring), in arguing that global warming and national security are the two “twin pillars” of President Obama’s Arctic Strategy. The article builds off retired Admiral James G. Stavridis’s recent op-ed for Foreign Policy.

Residents of the village of Shishmaref, located 125 miles north of Nome, voted last Tuesday to remain a “dry” community (FNM).


An article on seeks to put the brakes on discussion of a resources or shipping race in the Arctic. For more in this vein, see this article in Forbes that discusses the Arctic as full of promise, but also challenges that will slow development.


With next year only a two short months away, Shell has yet to announce its plans for the 2014 drilling season in the Chukchi Sea. Will the company continue its exploration campaign, or go the way of ConocoPhillips, which recently announced it would skip working in Alaska’s Arctic next year due to regulatory uncertainty (AJ)?

The recent government shutdown in Washington D.C. won’t delay the annual oil and gas lease sale for the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska which is scheduled for November 6th (PN).

While oil and gas come first to mind when one thinks of Alaska energy policy, Shaina Kilcoyne makes the case for the long-term benefits of energy efficiency and conservation in this editorial for the Alaska Dispatch.

ConocoPhillips signed an agreement with Polar Petroleum to purchase 2D seismic data from Alaska’s North Slope (EPMag).


Norway’s new petroleum minister Tord Lien says he will push for development of the Johan Castberg project in the Barent’s Sea. The project, delayed by cost overruns and questions about profitability, may get a boost from new tax incentives under consideration in the finance ministry to boost production at new fields (Bloomberg).

Arctic international cooperation is a reality in the Barents Sea oil and gas sector, at least. Norwegian companies have been enjoying fantastic success landing contracts in the Russian Arctic to provide technology to Russian drilling operations (BO). Norwegian companies played a role in the outfitting of Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform, currently at work in the Pechora Sea. The rig is described as a “bric-a-brac of second hand parts” by environmentalists in this articles for the Moscow Times. On another front, Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority is increasing cooperation on safety and regulation in the Arctic by hosting a one-day workshop with representatives from several Arctic countries to discuss safety and regulatory standards (The Foreigner). International cooperation in the Barents region can be tricky, though. Norway has spent EUR 172 million since the 1990s to help Russia clean up nuclear waste in northwest Russia. Trude Pettersen conducted some digging for the Barents Observer and found that oversight of these funds on the Russian side has been lacking (BO).

Eni Norge drilled a dry well in the Norwegian Barent’s sea (Oil-Gas Magazine, BO).

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate announced the completion of 2D seismic surveys in the northeastern Barents Sea, which incidentally will be the focus area for the 23rd oil and gas licensing round to be held early next year (BO).


A nice, detailed article by Margo McDiarmid for CBC digs into the details on news over the last few weeks that the Mackenzie Delta gas project, waylaid by tanking gas prices in North America, is being reimagined as an LNG project to supply Asia. The new plan will require a new pipeline route to the coast of British Columbia, perhaps to Kitimat, where Exxon Mobil is considering building an LNG terminal. Backers of an oil sands terminal in Kitimat seem to be hanging their hopes on a CND 8 billion loan guarantee from the Canadian government, a move that the government has so far resisted (PN).

75 protestors gathered in downtown Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to protest against hydraulic fracturing (NJ, EOTA). While politicians in the NWT have never shied away from promoting fracking, this week they’re promoting extensive upgrades to the Territories’ hydropower and electrical grid systems and calling on Ottawa to help finance the ambitious project (NJ).

New research in northern Alberta has shown that areas near oil sands processing centers have higher levels of air pollution than most of the world’s cities as well as elevated rates of cancer amongst local residents (Science Daily). Meanwhile, the Fort McKay First Nation has withdrawn from the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program not because of unprecedented levels of pollution, but because of their frustration at being marginalized by provincial and federal officials (NJ).


Two new oil fields, the Trebs and Titov, were launched last week in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (PortNews). These two fields will produce up to 4.8 million barrels a year which will be piped to the port of Varandey, which then is likely to be shipped over the Northern Sea Route (AIR, Russian). As the oil and gas sector booms, regional officials from Nenets are complaining that companies may not be accurately reporting when new structures are built as part of oil and gas projects, thereby avoiding increased property tax payments (AIR, Russian). President Putin announced that he intended to provide further tax breaks to spur development at Arctic projects such as those on the Yamal peninsula (Reuters). This short article in Energy Global takes a look at the role taxation of the Russian oil and gas sector (government take hovers around 90% of total revenue) in reducing the profitability and feasibility of developing remote oil and gas fields in the Russian Arctic.

Russian state-controlled oil company Zarubezhneft is looking to get into the action in Russia’s Arctic and currently has several lease applications under consideration. Exploration on the Arctic shelf, however, is officially limited to state-controlled companies with five years’ experience on the shelf (one may ask how a company is to achieve that five years of experience) and only Gazprom and Rosneft have been certified under these requirements (AIR, Russian).

There were conflicting signals from Gazprom this week regarding the Bovanenkovskoye gas fields. Last week, the company declared that it was going to scale back production at the field due to falling demand. This week, Gazprom announced the inauguration of 13 new wells at the field (AIR, Russian). You decide!

In what analysts are calling the “first sell, then produce” strategy, Rosneft signed additional agreements to supply oil to China this week. This will put pressure on Rosneft, already cash-strapped from its acquisition of TNK-BP last year, to ramp up production to satisfy the agreements it has already signed (EOTA). Another problem: how will they get all that oil to China? As the attention of Russia’s oil sector shifts to Asia, Transneft, the Russian state-controlled pipeline firm, is discussing plans to expand the East Siberia – Pacific Ocean pipeline, or build an entirely new pipeline to increase oil exports to China (Bloomberg). The Rosneft deal was only one of several developments in Russia’s energy relationship with Asia this week. Novatek inked a deal with the China National Petroleum Company (Natural Gas Asia), and the Indian state-controlled Oil and Natural Gas Corporation announced it was interested in exploring for oil and gas in the Russian Arctic (The Hindu). India failed to reach a deal with Russia, though, on the construction of two new nuclear power plants during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow last week (AAJ).


Last February, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of Bennett Island cloud plumes, which stretch out on only one side of the island. The clouds, a mystery to scientists in the 1970s and 1980s and regarded highly suspicious during the Cold War, are formed when air flows over the island sending moist air higher than usual (NASA).

News about the high temperatures in the Arctic was extensive this week. Several articles refer to a study published last week in Geophysical Research Letters by Gifford Miller et al. of the University of Colorado Boulder, U.S. (for example HP or Sci News). The study (abstract) found that “average summer temperatures of the last ~100 years (are) now higher than during any century in more than 44,000 years, including peak warmth of the early Holocene when high latitude summer insolation was 9% greater than present” (GRL). Also related to high temperatures in the Arctic is a video by Tony Reames from the University of Kansas that explores how the heat stemming from urbanization in the Arctic affects the environment (IGERT).

Scientists with the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC) found high levels of lead and zinc on a 70-km stretch around the rail bed of the now defunct Pine Point mine site, causing worries about health and environmental impacts. More research will be conducted next summer (NJ).
Flora and fauna

The Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group, CAFF, Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, released its report “Life Linked to Ice”, which confirms that the loss of the Arctic sea ice has a great impact on key species and thus affects the entire food chain (CAFF). You can download the report here (CAFF). Also dealing with biodiversity, Eugenio Rico and David Velázquez from the University of Madrid this summer conducted research on the “variation of polar freshwaters to determine the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning” at CEN’s (Centre d’études Nordiques) Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik Research Station on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay, Canada (Interact).

In science news this week, check out the articles on polar bears sticking around Resolute Bay, Canada. Usually they migrate away from the hamlet at this time of the year. Tabatha Mullins, the mayor, suspects that they are after easy food from the community’s dump site (NN), making the polar bear patrols very busy (EOTA).

Despite the decline in moose populations across Northern America, Canada’s Yukon region appears to be exempt from the “die-off” (AD).

Conferences and meetings

During the three-day meeting of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) in Whitehorse, Canada (see the official website: Arctic Council), U.S. officials cautioned that Canada’s role in Arctic science is endangered, referring to Leona Aglukkaq’s focus on tangible projects benefiting the Northern population (G&M). Canadian Inuit leaders as well as Greenland and Alaska delegates called for more support for Arctic research (AD). In the meantime, China emphasized environmental requirements over resource development goals (People Daily).

The report on the NSF-Sponsored Workshop on Cyber infrastructure for Polar Sciences is now available (Arcus), as well as the summary of the workshop on “Future Directions for Arctic Research Logistics” (Arcus).


The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) “invites investigators at U.S. organizations to submit proposals to conduct research about the Arctic” (NSF). / Andrey Petrov, assistant professor of geology and geospatial technology at the University of Northern Iowa, has won the federal NSF grant Arctic-FROST to develop his lab and offer students the opportunity to examine regional, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability in the Arctic (WCF). / The Advanced Cooperative Arctic Data and Information Service (ACADIS) expanded its data management services (Arcus). / New high-resolution digital elevation models for parts of the Arctic are now available at the Polar Geospatial Center at University of Minnesota (PGC). / The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) has formed interagency teams to implement the federal government’s five-year Arctic Research Plan, which covers the years from 2013 to 2017 (Arcus).



As part of measures implemented in the wake of the 22 July 2011 massacre on Utøya island, Norwegian police have carried out anti-terror drills on Svalbard. In the scenario practiced, an armed man held hostages in a marine laboratory in Ny-Ålesund (BO).

A state-appointed commission has found that a deadly March 2012 air accident involving a Norwegian military Hercules was caused by incorrect information provided by Swedish air-traffic control, which caused the plane to crash into a mountain (EOTA).


The Pyotr Veliky – the flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet – has departed the fleet’s main base of Severomorsk for a winter-long training mission. The mission will last several months, and will include patrolling and naval combat training (BO).

In less-glamorous Russian nuclear naval news, The Moscow Times reports that a Russian institute has concluded that there are some 17,000 containers and 19 vessels holding radioactive waste under the Kara Sea as a result of large-scale Soviet nuclear tests. There are concerns that as the Arctic thaws, strengthened currents could carry the radioactive material away.

United States

The US Coast Guard believes a fishing vessel that caught fire near the western Aleutian Islands is likely to have sunk. All five crew members were picked up by a passing vessel; the cause of the fire remains unknown (FNM).

Check out how a group of midshipmen from the US Naval Academy spent their spring break at the first-ever Naval Academy Ice Experiment in Barrow, AK (Arcus).


Regulators in Nunavut have given the go-ahead to start work on the proposed Nanisivik Naval Facility without a full environmental review as long as the Department of National Defense adheres to a list of terms and conditions. In 2007, the facility was first announced as an Arctic deep-water refueling port, but since has been “significantly scaled back” as costs ballooned. Construction should begin next year, with the facility up-and-running in 2016 (CBC).



The big news this week in mining was the vote by Greenland’s parliament to overturn the decades-old moratorium on uranium mining. The vote was close, with 15 votes from the Siumut and Atassut coalition in support for removing the ban and 14 votes against (AJ, Guardian, Reuters). The vote will open up Greenland to mining operations that target uranium as a primary or secondary mineral. In fact, much of the interest in mining in Greenland is not targeting uranium per se, but rare earth minerals which often occur in association with uranium and cannot be mined without removing the uranium. The Kvanefjeld site in southern Greenaland, currently under development by Australian-owned Greenland Minerals and Energy, is perhaps the second largest deposit of rare earth elements in the world (Proactive Investors Australia). Even as the vote was taking place last week, many in Greenland were unhappy with the process of overturning the ban and pleaded with the country’s political leaders to provide more information to the public on the risks and benefits of uranium mining and to submit the issue to a referendum of all Greenlanders (AJ).

In addition to the vote on uranium mining last week, Greenland’s natural resources minister awarded London Mining a 30-year license to allow the company to begin mining operations at the Isua iron ore deposit 90 miles from Nuuk (KNR, Danish). The large, open-pit mine planned for the site has been trumpeted as “the largest commercial project to date in Greenland” and the company plans on bringing in upwards of 3000 foreign workers to help with construction of the site (BBC). To get an idea of the scale of this project and the impact it will have on Greenland, contemplate this figure: the estimated cost of the mine, USD 15 billion, is twice as much as Greenland’s GDP (AJ).

The rapid growth of interest in Greenland’s mining sector presents a serious test for the autonomous territory’s political system and institutions. In an editorial for the Arctic Journal, Anders Meilvang, Thomas Trier Hansen, and Anne Mette Christiansen of Transparency International Greenland caution that the rush to develop mining brings with it a risk of corruption and abuse of power and encourages the government to adopt strong measures against corruption and in support of whistleblowers.


A court has ruled that the Talvivaara nickel mine in the Kainuu region of central Finland must limit wastewater discharges into the local waterways and make improvements to a leaking gypsum pond before the end of the year (YLE).


Vancouver-based NovaCopper released promising results from its exploration work this summer on its Bornite prospect in the Ambler mining district of northwest Alaska. Drilling revealed two concentrations of copper, one near the surface and the other more deeply buried (AD).

Representatives from environmental groups, the fishing industry and the regional native corporation have joined to form Bristol Bay United, an advocacy group whose mission is to speak out against the proposed Pebble Mine above Bristol Bay (FNM).


Lower commodity prices are being blamed for lackluster economic growth across Canada’s north this year, as profiled in this article from the Northern Journal.


Russian independent oil company Lukoil will be branching out into diamond mining. It plans to mine up to 4 million carats of diamonds a year from the Verkhotina deposit in the Arkhangelsk region (AIR, Russian). In addition to oil and gas, the Russian Arctic also has large deposits of rare earth minerals. The Tomtor deposit in Yakutia looks particularly promising (AIR, Russian).



In an article from the Arctic Yearbook, Ingo Heidbrink provides a historical perspective of selected Atlantic fishing industries and Arctic regions, including the nationalization of Arctic fisheries and conflicts between large-scale industrialized fisheries and subsistence fisheries (AY).

If you are particularly interested in the fisheries in Murmansk, consult Barents Nova’s statistical overview (BN).


While the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) 2013 Progress Report is now available online (PAME), Mark Rosen and Patricio Asfura-Heim of the Stanford University look at the governance gap in the Arctic with a special focus on shipping and offshore activities (Stanford). Additionally, Canada, supported by Denmark, will focus on marine safety and push for new safety standards in shipping during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council (G&M). At the recent international conference “Arctic Shipping and Offshore Activities: Responding to Safety and Environmental Challenges,” hosted by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS), the participants, including among others Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), agreed on the need for the development of the Polar Code (ML). Safety is also the theme of a conference on risk management and safe petroleum activities in the High North, which will enable senior executives from the international petroleum industry to discuss collaboration aimed at increasing safety. It will take place at the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) on November 1 (Offshore Energy Today).

This week, several vessels arrived at their destination ports. South Korea celebrated a “mile stone cargo move” via the Northern Sea Route. The freighter operated by logistics company Hyundai Glovis arrived at its South Korean destination on Tuesday (Yonhap, CP). You can find an image of the route here. Furthermore “Amur Bay”, the tanker of the Primorsk Shipping Company (PRISCO) completed its voyage and arrived in Antwerp on October 22 (RIA, in Russian).

Navis Engineering and Aker Arctic Technology have signed an agreement on scientific and technical co-operation on development of technology for dynamic positioning (DP) systems for icebreakers and ice-class vessels (ME). Aker Arctic Technology is also involved in the Finnish government’s plans to build the world’s first icebreaker running on liquefied natural gas (RIA, in Russian).

Other business and economic news

In an article from the Arctic Yearbook, Matthias Finger investigates business-government relations in the Arctic in view of the “looming global ecological crises”, in which the Arctic serves as a socio-ecological laboratory (AY).

In Canada, two environmental consultants and instructors, Adam Bathe and John Blyth, consider the NWT jurisdiction to be very favorable to start ups, which is why they would like to see a push in entrepreneurial development and foster entrepreneurial attitudes (NJ). Further South in Alberta, the Dene Tha First Nation recently purchased the Executive House Suites hotel in High Level, Canada (NJ).

According to the Finnish Minister of Labor, Lauri Ihalainen, Finland is lagging behind other countries and will need to catch up. Nevertheless, Markku Pirinen, project manager at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), stated that Finland has long experience in the development of Arctic technology. This is why LUT focuses on strategic cooperation with Russian partners, which allows for a wider area of research and facilitates access to the Russian market (LUT). An interesting blog by Tuomas Lähteenmäki also explores Finland’s business opportunities in the Arctic (Aurora Thule).

Greenland hosted the 4th annual conference and trade show aiming at promoting economic cooperation and trade between Greenland and Iceland, which took place last week in Nuuk (AJ).



A 4-H group from Tanana, Alaska attended the Alaska Federation of Natives’ annual conference, held in Fairbanks over the weekend (FNM), to speak out against suicide and substance abuse in Alaska (EOTA). Alaska Dispatch reported on how the US government’s “sequestration” plan could devastate healthcare for the Alaskan natives. In Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories has allocated CAN 54,000 to support a pilot program targeting traditional eating for elders (NJ), and the Canadian Arctic Service Corps is targeting poor housing in Nunavut, which the group says poses significant health risks (CBC).


The Arctic Research Consortium of the US (ARCUS) partnered with Alaska Geographic and the National Park service to set up a four-day teacher-training course on climate change in Alaska’s Denali National Park this past July. A report on the course is available on the ARCUS website.


Of the forty resolutions passed at this weekend’s Alaska Federation of Natives conference, only one – calling for a review of the convictions of the “Fairbanks Four” in relation with the murder of John Hartman in 1997 - received unanimous support (FNM). At the convention, Lisa Murkowski openly criticized the Federal Subsistence Board’s “ridiculous” rural standards during her address (FNM). Fairbanks also hosted the Elders and Youth conference last week, where they pondered over questions such as “How do you stay with your tradition?” (FNM). A tough question, especially when faced with what the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of Development of the Arctic dubs the “turbulent modernization” of northern societies.

Interesting society-related features include an article on Nunavik’s only female, Inuk constable (NN), a piece on the role of media in Arctic development (AIR, in Russian), an abstract for Linda Green’s study on Yup’ik combat veterans (ARCUS), and a book published by the International Polar Institute called “The Meaning of Ice: People and sea ice in three Arctic communities.”


The Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, Minnesota (no stranger to its fair share of “arctic” weather) recently hosted an Arctic film night, Yellowknife held its second annual Ptarmicon comics and gaming convention (NJ), and Alaska Public Media Television’s College Track series, a reality series which follows the lives of Alaska Native College students, premieres “Track 3” this week (FNM). The Toronto Star did a piece on “Nunavut’s battle to preserve Arctic languages,” and the Royal Ontario Museum is running a show called “Carbon 14: Climate Is Culture” (G&M).



Ferry services between Salekhard and Labytnangi closed for the season on 24 October. When ice is sufficiently strong in the winter, a traditional winter road crossing will reopen. Plans for a bridge between Salekhard and Labytnangi have been discussed, but have yet to receive funding (AIR, Russian).

The Nenets Autonomous District has approved a list of investment projects, including the construction of a Sosnogorsk-Indiga railroad linking Ural, Komi Republic, and the Nenets Autonomous District with northern European markets (AIR, Russian).


The Chinese Sichuan Road and Bridge Group has won a EUR 93 million contract to build the longest bridge in Northern Norway. The Hålogaland Bridge in Nordland will span 1,145 meters, with a total length of 1,533 meters (BO).

United States

Check out the United States Arctic Research Commission’s report on some of the problems regarding rural water supplies and sanitation in Alaska (Arcus).



This year’s Montana Iceman Polar ski mountaineering race will be held April 13-25 in northeast Greenland. The race is one of the few to be held in the Arctic and participants will be able to choose between a 150km and two 100km races, which will pass through “remote alpine checkpoints” and finish in the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit (FirstTracksOnline).


Yellowknife is finally rolling out plans for a series of bike lanes. Last week, city council voted to begin public discussion on the proposed routes, which within five years could potentially link every neighborhood in the capital (NJ).

After eight years of inactivity, Sport North will resume its NWT Coaching Symposium this year. The program aims to “raise interest in coaching, volunteering and officiating, while providing much needed training and support” (NJ).

Check out this profile of famed hunter Earl Evans in UpHere.

United States

NWITimes gives a look at the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Climate Reconnaissance Teams’ missions, which provides veterans and service-members the chance to explore the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Famed spring musher George Attla is hoping to bolster the interest in dog sledding competitions in small Alaska villages. His Frank Attla Youth and Sled Dog Care Mushing Program in the Interior village of Huslia launched last year, and in March a local musher will compete in the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks (FNM).

For those of you interested in polar exploration and living vicariously through others, check out the Dark Ice Project’s homepage. The expedition will last over 200 days and begin in mid-December 2013 – in the polar darkness.


A beautiful and varied Flickr haul this week, complete with a waxwing from Keith Williams, a snowy Alaska Highway from Bruce McKay, an Inuk Drum Dancer and Arctic Bay Cadets from Clare Kines, sea ice from Mike Beauregard, little peak mountain and some cool wolf footage from Mikofox, and a dark, deserted road from Paul Aningat. On Instagram we have an Arctic landscape from johannperry, a sunny Arctic circle from Trekdude and a throwback to mylastbite’s Arctic trip in 1994, while the week’s lone twitpic is a young Inuk boy holding a harpoon in 1958, posted by Maatalii Okalik.

This week’s photo features include an interesting photo-essay on “8 Abandoned Arctic Islands” from The World Geography, a spectacular slideshow from the Wall Street Journal titled “Northern Exposure: Sailing the Arctic,” Moose during Alaska’s fall rut from Alaska Dispatch, and shots from Eureka, Nunavut in Mike Maurice’s blog Happy Trails.

And if video is your thing, check out the Fulldome Database’s very neat live action fulldome film “Beyond the Arctic Circle.”


The University of Alaska Fairbanks hosted a lecture on zombie science last week (FNM). While there was no snow on the ground in Fairbanks last week and residents were beginning to ponder the possibility of a snowless Halloween (FNM), a late-season rainfall created icing on interior Alaska’s highways and treacherous conditions for motorists (FNM). As the current solar maximum reaches its peak, tourists in the thousands are flocking to the Northwest Territories, Canada, to experience the northern lights, though for an unknown reason the displays have been less brilliant than expected (NJ). If you’re looking for some unique holiday gifts that are truly the products of the north, see this holiday small business gift guide in the Northern Journal. And in Yakutia, Russia, the Evenki people are celebrating one of their three national holidays: the year’s first snowfall. While the first snow of the year is not universally met with joy around the world, for the Evenki, the first snow is a sign of good luck and a cause for celebration (AIR, Russian).

Staff of The Arctic This Week

Managing Editor: Kevin Casey
Design and Layout: Maura Farrell
Copy Editor: Kyaelim Kwon

Energy, Mining and Grab Bag: Kevin Casey
Politics; Health, Education, Society and Culture; and Images/Videos: Maura Farrell
Science, Environment and Wildlife; Fisheries, Shipping and other Business: Doris Friedrich
Military/SAR, Infrastructure, and Sports: Seth Myers

Abbreviation Key

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)
Aftenbladet (AB)
Alaska Business Monthly (ABM)
Alaska Dispatch (AD)
Alaska Journal of Commerce (AJC)
Alaska Native News (ANN)
Alaska Public Media (APM)
Anchorage Daily News (ADN)
Arctic Info (Russian) (AIR)
Arctic Institute (TAI)
Barents Nova (BN)
Barents Observer (BO)
Bristol Bay Times (BBT)
BusinessWeek (BW)
Canadian Mining Journal (CMJ)
Christian Science Monitor (CSM)
Eye on the Arctic (EOTA)
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (FNM)
Financial Times (FT)
Globe and Mail (G&M)
Government of Canada (GOC)
Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT)
Huffington Post (HP)
Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN)
Johnson’s Russia List (JRL)
Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (KNR)
Lapin Kansa (LK)
Marine Link (ML)
Moscow Times (MT)
National Geographic (NG)
Natural Gas Europe (NGE)
Naval Today (NT)
New York Times (NYT)
Northern Journal (NJ)
Northern News Service Online (NNSO)
Northern Public Affairs (NPA)
Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI)
Nunatsiaq News (NN)
Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ)
Ottawa Citizen (OC)
Petroleum News (PN)
RIA Novosti (RIAN)
Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH)
Russia Today (RT)
Voice of Russia (VOR)
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
Washington Post (WP)
Whitehorse Star (WS)
Winnipeg Free Press (WFP)
Yukon News (YN)