The Arctic This Week: 29 November to 4 December

Courtesy of I love Greenland
The Arctic This Week 2013: 43

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Let’s plunge into December with news from the Arctic!

To stay up-to-date on matters related to Arctic governance, we invite you to read Timo Koivurova’s recent article in the Michigan State International Law Review - “The Dialectic of Understanding Progress in Arctic Governance.” If you print it out and someone catches a glimpse of it on your desk,the title alone will impress! On the subject of governance we’d also suggest the book Arctic Marine Governance: Opportunities for Transatlantic Cooperation, a new book edited by Elizabeth Tedsen, Sandra Cavalieri and R. Andreas Kraemer.

If you’re interested in hearing about China’s Arctic interests from an insider’sperspective, check out the CIGI paper “China and the Arctic: China's Interests and Participation in the Region.” The paper’s author, Kai Sun, is an associate professor at the Ocean University of China.

In energy reads, Vasiliy Bogoyavlensky provides a comprehensive and useful overview of Russia’s oil and gas transportation system in the Arctic in this articleavailable through the EU’s Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of Development of the Arctic. The article drives home the challenges Russia faces in exploiting its Arctic oil and gas and the massive industrial developments Russia has undertaken to access these resources and transport them to market.

Following on the heels of the Pentagon’s new Arctic Strategy, four senators from Washington and Alaska have inserted an amendment into the 2014 Defense Authorization Act to build four new heavy-duty icebreakers. The ships would be procured by the Navy, and transferred to the Coast Guard upon completion. However, given budgetary constraints it seems unlikely the amendment will pass (Columbian).

In mining reads, see this articleby Tasha Anderson in the Alaska Business Monthly that profiles Alaska’s major producing mines and how they overcome the geographic challenges of operating in Alaska and transporting their goods to far off markets.

Biologist Craig Ely studied geese and swans in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta with the help of children from Chevak, Alaska, every August from 1986 to 2010. To document this lovely collaboration, Craig Ely collected the pictures he took over the years in the volume “Banding Together to Learn and Preserve” (AD), which can be found here with a description of the undertaken studies.

Revisions to Canada’s fisheries law made in 2012 took effect last week on November 25. They removed the protections for 80% of Canada’s 71 freshwater fish species currently at risk of extinction. The changes, considered as myopic by many biologists, could also have downstream consequences for the U.S. (Nature). For further insights into the possible consequences of the new law, read this commentary by Nikolaus Gantner of Canada’s Trent University.

In sports, this week’s must-see article is again a video: check out the amazing series of videos from Alex Hibbert’s Dark Ice Project YouTube as he and his team prepare for an unsupported attempt to reach the North Pole this winter.


Canada and Denmark’s respective extended continental shelf applications made headlines this week. On Tuesday, November 26, Denmark submitted the fourth of five continental shelf submissions it is expected to make by 2014 (BO, Government of Denmark). Click here to read an executive summary of the claim. Over the weekend, major Canadian media outlets including The Globe & Mail, CBC News, National Post, The Calgary Herald and Global News all posted the same article by Bob Weber on Canada’s upcoming submission, which is due to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf by Friday. Fortunately, where Arctic states’ claims overlap, it seems that states are committed to playing nice and following the rules (AIR, in Russian).

However, this may not be the case for the Arctic Sunrise dispute. Russia refused to participate in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s proceedings concerning the case, and has not yet complied with the tribunal’s order to release the vessel (RBTH). On November 22, the tribunal gave both countries ten days to comply with its judgment, which required that the Netherlands provide Russia with a bank guarantee of EUR 3,600,000 in exchange for the release of the ship and its passengers. Dutch authorities have finalized the guarantee (RIAN, BO), but the ship and the Greenpeace activists remain in Russia. The “Arctic 30” have now all been released on bail (NYT, Upstream), but they cannot leave the country while the charges against them still stand (NL Times). Australian legal scholar Donald Rothwell said that Russia “has a clear obligation to follow the tribunal’s ruling” and cannot “pick and choose” when to follow international law (ABC).

In other law-related news, a World Trade Organization panel has upheld the European Union’s ban on seal products (AD), and Ivan Moseev, a “primus motor” in re-establishing relations between Arkhangelsk, Russia and Vardø, Norway, has filed a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights (BO). Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Terry Audla called the EU ban (which the panel upheld due to a public morals clause) “Orwellian” and an “outrageous trade impediment” (EOTA).

The Nordics

The Arctic Journal highlighted Denmark’s role in Arctic affairs this week, featuring stories on Denmark’s Arctic ambassador Erik Vilstrup Lorenzen and on a recent indigenous peoples’ conference hosted in Denmark by the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Sámi Council.

In Norwegian news, Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende delivered a speech on the Arctic at the Royal Geographic Society’s meeting in London (Gov’t of Norway), Pia Svensgaard and the Troms County Council have resigned in response to the “turbulent political situation” in the region (BO), and the Norwegian environmental minister will not attend this week’s Barents Environmental Ministers meeting in Finland, an absence which the secretary-general of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat has criticized (BO).


The Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) put out a lot of noteworthy material surrounding this week’s conference, The Arctic: Region of Cooperation and Development. On RIAC’s site you’ll find an interview with Andrei Zagorsky (cross-posted from Russia Direct) and a piece by Arthur Chilingarov, as well as RIAC’s new report “Cooperation in the Arctic that Zagorsky co-authored.

President Putin said that Russia’s new Environmental Security Strategy will stress cross-border pollution and environmentally-sound Arctic development (BO), and a new book by Marlene Laruelle examines Russia’s Arctic strategy.

North America

This week was lighter than usual on Canadian news. Three stories popped up on our radar, one in The Star Phoenix on a water-related agreement between Saskatchewan and Alberta that will impact the northern part of the territories, another on the Liard First Nation elections committee’s alleged foul play in Lower Post, British Columbia (Yukon News), and an op-ed in The Globe & Mail on youth voices in northern government.

In Washington, senators from Alaska and Washington State jointly proposed to amend a military authorization bill that would allow the U.S. to build more icebreakers (AD). Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “moving towards an Arctic future means more icebreakers,” and that the new bill would “help deliver” on the Department of Defense’s promise to become more involved in the Arctic. To read some of TAI’s thoughts on the recently-released defense strategy, click here. For more policy stories, see this article on development and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from Alaska Public Media and Alaska Dispatch’s piece on Jimmy Carter’s environmental policies in Alaska. In unrelated policy news, Alaska State Troopers are considering allowing village public safety officers arm themselves while on duty (FNM).


For the view from 10,000 feet, we start with two articles on the merits and potential of Arctic oil and gas exploration.  The first comes to us from National Journal and features an interesting roundtable on the merits of Arctic oil exploration.  Opinions are provided by a range of individuals including Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel, who stated “Alaska, as a state, has been developing its resources in the arctic safely for decades;” and Dan Ritzman of the Sierra Club who wrote that “the Arctic's dirty fuels should be kept in the ground. Cleaner energy and transportation options are here now. We don’t need to continue investing in fuels of the past” (National Journal).  The second articlefrom the Motley Fool is a rehash of the “rush to the Arctic” story which turns into a pitch to buy some stocks and get rich from the unconventional oil and gas boom.


It’s the time of year in Fairbanks when the mercury plunges, residents fire up their beloved wood stoves, and the debate concerning wood fuel and air pollution is rekindled.  The Fairbanks North Star Borough issued an advisory that airborne particulates had reached unhealthy levels over the weekend and that children and the elderly should avoid prolonged exposure (FNM). For up-to-date advisories, you can find the Borough’s Air Quality page here. Wood burning is the main culprit in higher particulate levels. Problem is, Fairbanksans love their wood stoves. When the borough tried regulate wood burning, Fairbanks residents answered with a ballot initiative that effectively banned the borough from banning wood burning.  Dermot Cole provides some good details on the political debate over wood burning in this articlefor the Alaska Dispatch. Some good news for the borough’s residents: as winter gains force the local Golden Valley Electric Association projected that bills should drop an average of USD 4 beginning next month (FNM).

The Obama administration is still considering whether to approve Shell’s 2014 drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea as environmental groups lobby heavily against the plan (McClatchy, ADN).

Tina Casey (no relation to this author) provides some interesting perspective on the U.S. Department of Defense’s new Arctic Strategy in this articlefrom the Energy Collective that unpacks some overlooked language in Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s recent speech concerning the US military’s clean energy and climate initiatives.


The Russian Duma approved a bill to liberalize LNG exports last week (AIR, in Russian), and President Putin signed the long-awaited bill into law (RIAN).  While Gazprom will maintain its monopoly on pipeline gas exports, other companies will gain the right to export LNG under the new measure.  This includes Novatek, which has partnered with the Chinese Nation Petroleum Company to export LNG to China from the Yamal peninsula.  For an overview of other LNG projects that are in development across Russia, see this articlefrom Reuters.

Gazprom will construct two new ice-protected drilling rigs for use in the Doldinskoye field in the Pechora Sea, a few kilometers from its Prirazlomnaya rig (BO).  Neft Sakhalin and Rosneft subsidiary RN Shelf-Arctic both plan to join Gazprom in offshore oil and gas development in the Pechora Sea over the next several years (AIR, in Russian).

Rosneft announced that its subsidiary Vankorneft will lead the development of the Suzunskoe and Tagulskoe oil fields in far northern Siberia (AIR, in Russian) and that production at the Kharampurskoye gas field on the Yamal Peninsula will begin in 2017 (AIR, in Russian). In a sign that Rosneft plans to move ahead with oil and gas exploration in Russia’s far eastern Arctic, the company has conducted public outreach to gauge the sentiment of local communities regarding oil exploration in the region (AIR, in Russian).

Gazprom has entered into an agreement with regional authorities in Yamal to provide natural gas for local consumption and to help in the region’s economic development (AIR, in Russian). Total, meanwhile, is looking to abandon its 25% stake in the delayed Shtokman gas project in favor of a share in Gazprom’s Baltic LNG project (Rigzone; AIR, in Russian). Gazprom is also reported to have invited Shell to take a stake in the project (Upstream).

Representatives from the Japanese company Komai Haltec met with representatives from regional utilities in Yakutia to discuss wind power generation in Arctic conditions (AIR, in Russian).

Italy’s “Arctic Strategy” appears to run through Moscow if we are to believe the headline of this articlefrom the Barents Observer.  Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has been contracted to build a new Arctic-capable drillship for use in Russia’s Arctic.  Eni is also involved in ongoing exploration in Russia’s Barents Sea.  Do two unrelated projects make a strategy?

Gazprom’s poor environmental record is on display again as the company has been nominated for a Public Eye award due to its oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. You can read about the case against Gazprom here, and more about the Public Eye Awards here.

Two articles address nuclear energy in Russia’s Arctic.  The first, by Thomas Nilsen, explores a proposal by Rosatom to dispose of nuclear waste at one of ten sites under consideration, most of them in permafrost in the Russian Arctic (BO). In the second, Anna Kireeva writes for Bellona on how nuclear energy is being harnessed to fuel Russia’s search for oil and gas in the Arctic (Bellona).


State-owned Statoil’s head of exploration Tim Dodson told Reuters that due to financial, technical and climatic challenges he doesn’t envision any major production from Norway’s Arctic before 2030 (Reuters, OilPro). Statoil has been quite aggressive on another front: lobbying.  The company has spent USD 5.5 million lobbying the US government since 2001, while spending EUR 898,000 lobbying European governments last year alone (AB).


The president of the Qulliq Energy Corp., Nunavut’s public utility, has been replaced as part of a series of appointments by Nunavut’s new government (NN).

In the Northwest Territories, ConocoPhillips has released a list of chemicals it intends to use in hydraulic fracturing in the Territories, including several that are known carcinogens (CBC).

The Port of Churchill, Manitoba, faces an uphill battle as it tries to sell the Canadian public on the idea of moving hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil by rail from North Dakota to the Hudson Bay. Memories are still fresh after the Lac Megantic, Québec, tragedy where 47 people were killed when a train carrying North Dakota crude derailed and exploded (Guardian).

The Environmental Impact Screening Committee issued a ruling that calls for more planning and review of Imperial Oil’s application to conduct exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of the Northwest Territories (WWF). You can find a full text of the ruling here.


The release of methane in the Arctic was an issue frequently discussed this week. Sam Carana points to high readings of methane from north Greenland. These have to be the result of cracks in the moving sea ice, which allow the methane gas to rise (Arctic News). Natalia Shakhova and a long list of coauthors published an article in Nature Geoscience, showing that the seafloor off the coast of Northern Siberia – the East Siberian Arctic Shelf – emits at least 17 teragrams (approximately 17 million tons) of methane into the atmosphere each year. This is more than twice the amount previously estimated (SD). Interestingly, last week’s news picked up the role of storms in the release of methane (CC), whereas this week the focus was on the high amount of methane (see also EOTA and UPI). For a lively presentation on Arctic methane and its link to global climate, watch the short NASA video. Another video explains the role of sea ice in Arctic methane emissions. The video features interviews by scientists from the Polar Ocean Physics Group, the NASA Goddard Institute, the International Arctic Research Centre and Apollo-Gaia (Envisionation).

A recent report from the World Bank and the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative examines the potential benefits of a reduction of short-lived climate pollutants such as soot, including very significant health and climate benefits (Motherboard).

The Regional Arctic System Model (RASM), which is the Arctic climate model of the Naval Postgraduate School in the U.S., predicts that by 2016, the summer ice of the Arctic Ocean might disappear. This new model estimates the occurrence of an ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer much earlier than conventional climate models, which predict the disappearance of summer ice for the year 2100 (Monterey County Weekly).

Cristian Suteanu, a geography and environmental science professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, has analyzed temperature data from weather stations in Canada, Norway and Russia. The trend and patterns he could observe make him “almost certain the warming in the Arctic is caused by humans.” (CBC)

Another piece of bad news also comes from Canada, which has to take into account the possibility of its subarctic lakes drying out after atypically light snowfall over recent winters and increased evaporation in dry summers (NWN). If this trend continues, there will be serious ecological consequences (NN).

In reaction to the climatic changes, the small barrier island of Kivalina off the northwestern coast of Alaska is slowly succumbing to shoreline erosion. The Modelling Kivalina Project is seeking to develop alternatives for the island’s 400 residents as state and federal agencies have failed to address their plight (World Justice Project).
Flora and fauna

Aatu, a domesticated reindeer abandoned by his mother at a very early age, has become a tourist attraction in Rovaniemi, Finland. He works as a tourist guide and enjoys watching TV in his spare time. The article includes a video of Aatu with his owner Pia Tuukkanen (EOTA).

A biologist cutting open a sperm whale found dead on the coastal waters of the Faroese islands was probably happy he was wearing a full body suit when the whale’s guts exploded. See this videohere, but only after you’ve finished your meal (AJ).

Following storms in Western Alaska in early November, hundreds of dead seabirds were washed ashore. After speculation about the causes, it now appears likely that severe winter storms are to blame. Nevertheless, the possibility that the die-off may have been caused by Fukushimaradiation has not been entirely discarded yet (AD).

And now let’s turn to the “kings of the Arctic,” the polar bears, as they are currently causing a lot of concerns. Ahead of the Moscow International Forum on Conservation of Polar Bears from December 3 to 6, questions have been raised about the current state of the polar bear population. Are polar bear numbers in Hudson Bay, Canada, on verge of collapse? According to an article in The Guardian by Suzanne Goldenberg and published on November 27, the answer is a clear “yes” (Guardian). This is allegedly accompanied by an increasing risk for Canada's remote towns (Guardian). The claim was however quickly disputed by a commentary on Polar Bear Science, which describes it as “propaganda … politically motivated” and emphasizes that the relevant data is still withheld. Meanwhile, the BBC presenter Gordon Buchanan talks about his recent frightening and very close encounter with a polar bear (Ethical Hedonist). In case you haven’t seen it, here is the must-watch video of the encounter (SWNS TV). Live footage from the polar bear cam in Churchill, Canada, is available until the end of November, when the sea usually freezes and the bears’ hunting season starts (AD). You can find the stream here, provided by the CBC.

In Iqaluit, Canada, the cooperation between The Government of Nunavut, World Wildlife Fund, and Parks Canada resulted in a comprehensive Polar Bear Guard Training course (WWF).


Following on the heels of the Pentagon’s new Arctic Strategy,  four senators from Washington and Alaska have inserted  an amendment into the 2014 Defense Authorization Act to build four new heavy-duty icebreakers. The ships would be procured by the Navy, and transferred to the Coast Guard upon completion. However, given budgetary constraints it seems unlikely the amendment will pass (Columbian).

United States

Two men from Grayling were rescued on the Yukon River after allegedly setting out on a 20-mile drunken snowmachine trip. The Yukon acts as a highway during the winter, but is not yet entirely frozen over (FNM, AD). Meanwhile, the ongoing saga of the Arctic Hunter– a crabber shipwrecked off the Aleutian Islands – continues. Salvage experts are now considering using underwater explosives to blast the rocks upon which it is currently stuck (AD).

The newly unveiled Department of Defense Arctic Strategy continues to draw attention and analysis (Mint Press, CounterCurrents, Fria). On The Strategist, Andrew Smith compares and contrasts the strategy with Australia’s Antarctic Strategic Plan.

Last but not least, check out this photo of Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger aboard the Finnish icebreaker Uhro (Amchan Finland Twitter).


A Russian naval spokesman has indicated that the Arctic will be a priority region for the Russian Navy in 2014, with increased training missions and emphasis on mapping lesser-known regions (RIAN). To that end, the commander of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces announced that Russia has begun to deploy aerospace defense units in the Arctic, and is beginning to construct an early missile warning radar in the region. Russia aims to ultimately deploy fully automated radar systems in the region (RIAN, RIAN). While the Navy may be increasing its operational tempo in the Arctic, it will apparently do so without several of its new Borey-class submarines, with Barents Observer reporting that the Aleksandr Nevskyand Vladimir Monomakh will be assigned to the Pacific Fleet in 2014, contradicting previous reports that they would be sent to the Northern Fleet.

Russian soldiers assigned to the Arctic will soon be using a new personal heating system – dubbed “Arctic Warrior” – to keep warm. The system is built into fatigues and provides heating via infrared radiation (AIR).


Norway has announced the creation of a new Rapid Reaction Force – HRS Nord – to be based in Setermoen, Troms County (B0). The new force – and the rest of the Norwegian military – can henceforth look forward to “meatless Mondays,” as the military looks to reduce its carbon footprint by going vegetarian one day a week (AJ).

Check out this highly-useful image on Ove Poulsen’s Twitter account showing lines of SAR Delimitation in the Arctic.


In Canada, the navy could be facing a shortfall of ships because of an inflexible budget and generally poor planning by civilian leaders, according to a new report by the auditor general. The Arctic patrol ship program is likely to be affected (Nanaimo Daily News). In other bad news for Canadian shipbuilding, the RCMP have charged a man with attempting to pass classified naval information to China (G&M).

As Canada looks to procure a fleet of drones, it is currently debating whether they should be armed or not. According to Gen. Tom Lawson, chief of the defense staff, drones could be used – among other missions – to conduct seasonal patrols in the Arctic in areas beyond the coverage of current radar systems (Vancouver Sun).



Communities along the Athabasca River continued to deal with the fallout from the collapse of a dam that held back 670,000 cubic meters of coal sediment tailings from a defunct Alberta mine on October 31. As the plume of contaminated water reached Fort McMurray, Alberta, this week, technicians shut down the town’s water intake from the river until the danger passes (NJ). A Northern Journal editorialasks whether the Alberta provincial government was complicit in the spill, or merely incompetent in the event’s aftermath. Alberta regulators have ordered the company that owns the defunct mine, Sherrit International, to contain the spill and remediate any damage to local wildlife (NJ).

The Alberta Energy Regulator has launched an inquiry into complaints and lawsuits by residents in the Peace River region regarding health problems they blame on fumes from nearby oilsands operations (NJ). Elsewhere in Alberta, Apache Canada has reported another large wastewater spill (NJ) and members of the Lubicon First Nation have blockaded an access road to protest plans to use hydraulic fracturing on a nearby oil lease site (NJ).

The Nunavut Impact Review Board has the power to issue terms and conditions for mining development, but lacks the power of enforcement, a problem which regulators hope will be corrected by pending legislation (CBC).

Two companies involved in the Hope Bay gold project in Nunavut are charged with the illegal discharge of drilling fluid and a failure to report the spillage (CBC).

With the new powers gained under devolution, the Northwest Territories is likely to see tens of millions of dollars of revenue from resource development projects per year.  The finance ministry’s plan to devote only 5% of revenues to the territories’ wealth fund is drawing criticism across the board for being too stingy (NJ). Mining industry representatives in NWT remain optimistic about mining in the territories despite a dramatic drop in investment due to plummeting commodity prices this year (NJ). A plan to open up two new deposits at the Ekati diamond mine in the NWT could extend the life of the mine, projected to run out in 2019, by another twenty years (NJ). And despite a vow to hire more local workers, the NWT’s three diamond mines continue to be dominated by workers from Southern Canada (CBC).

The University of Alberta celebrated the opening of the Arctic Resources Geochemistry Laboratory.  The new lab hopes to provide more sophisticated instruments and techniques to help identify promising mineral deposits throughout Canada’s North (Edmonton Journal).


The Arctic Journal featured an interviewthis week with industry and minerals minister Jens-Erik Kirkegaard about his recent trip to China and the importance of developing markets and bringing in capital from Asia for large mining projects.

NunaMinerals president Ole Christiansen was awarded the 2013 Nordic Exploration Award for his company’s work developing the Vagar gold prospect in southern Greenland (AJ).


The saga of beleaguered Finnish mining company Talvivaara continued this week as several of the company’s creditors refused to back a restructuring plan for company, meaning it will either have to find new backers or declare bankruptcy (Reuters).


An excellent edition of the Alaska Business Monthly contains numerous articles of interest.  I will highlight a few here, but do peruse the table contents for other worthwhile reads. Deantha Crockett, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association, gives a good (if industry-biased) overview of the mining industry in Alaska and its impacts on the state’s economy (ABM). Isaak Hurst provides a short article on the Law of the Sea and offshore mining (ABM). Finally, see this articleby Tasha Anderson that profiles Alaska’s major producing mines and how they overcome the geographic challenges of operating in Alaska and transporting their goods to far off markets.


Revisions to Canada’s fisheries law took effect last week on November 25. They removed the protections for 80% of Canada’s 71 freshwater fish species currently at risk of extinction. The changes, considered as short-sighted by many biologists, could also have downstream consequences for the U.S. (Nature). For further insights into the possible consequences, read this commentary by Nikolaus Gantner of Canada’s Trent University.

In the meantime, Bjarte Bogstad of the Institute of Marine Research, Norway, sheds light on the conflict between the energy and fishing industries in the Barents Sea (NG).


Whereas Holly Ellyatt of CNBC focuses on the “Arctic boom” of Norway's shipping industry (CNBC), Marianne Lavelle’s article on National Geographic gives a great overview of the growth of Arctic shipping in 2013, which she claims was “led by Russia and lured by energy” (NG).

Transportation along the Northern Sea Route was the main topic of the high-level meeting that took place in Murmansk between Alexei Tyukavina, the first deputy governor of the region, and a delegation from Japan, including representatives of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan; Japanese research institutions; and companies of the Hokkaido Prefecture (AIR, in Russian).

Further strengthening Russia’s lead in the Arctic shipping industry, the Krylov State Research Centre in St. Petersburg announced its plans to design a vessel suited for transport of nuclear waste in Arctic waters. Understandably enough, this is of concern to Russia’s neighbor Norway. Nils Bøhmer with the Bellona Foundation explains that such an undertaking is “very difficult to perform in a safe way” (BO). Although it has not yet been decided who will be awarded the contract to build the vessel, the Italian shipbuilding group Fincantiere has signed two MoUs with Russia on a harsh weather drillship and a nuclear waste disposal barge (Seatrade Global). In addition, Fincantieri secured a contract to build the Norwegian Polar Institute’s research vessel Kronprins Haakon which will be based in Tromsø (BO).

Russia doesn’t seem to be able to get rid of its national shares in the Northern Shipping Company, based in Arkhangelsk, and Murmansk Shipping. The second attempt to sell the relatively old fleet of vessels failed when the auctions were declared invalid due to the lack of applications (BO).

Other business and economic news

As part of the article “Is the Arctic the Next Emerging Market?” by Per-Ola Karlsson and Laurence C. Smith, this slideshow presents the business opportunities in the Arctic in pictures (Strategy+Business).

News from Canada’s NWT was given plenty of space in the media this week. In the advertising campaign “Uncharted Adventures” for Corona beer, two friends present “an experience less expected,” referring to the unique adventures tourists can have in the NWT (CBC). In Fort Smith, also in NWT, 30 participants learned the trapper lifestyle at a local Environment and Natural Resources workshop last week. Renewable resource officer Danny Beaulieu praised trapping as a “really good lifestyle” and a good way to “make a living, regardless of education” (NJ). Despite those initiatives, NWT organizations are looking for skilled workers overseas. Conseil de développement économique des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CDETNO) and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation’s Det’on Cho Corp. hoped to attract potential applicants at a job fair held in France and Belgium last week. Because of the current unemployment challenges in Europe, it is a good market to look for employees (NJ).

Also in the NWT, the Inuvialuit Corporate Group, established to manage the affairs of the Inuvialuit Land Claim Settlement, reported record net earnings of CAD 17.5 million (EUR 12.1 million or USD 16.5 million), recovering from the previous year’s losses (NJ).

Further south, the Manitoba government in Canada approved legislation to establish Churchill Arctic Port Canada Inc., a non-government agency with the goal to spur economic development and attract investment in the region (Thompson Citizen).

From January 29 to February 1, 2014, Ottawa’s semi-annual Northern Lights conference and trade show will allow Nunavut to display its business opportunities and culture in the South (NN).

The Norwegian government launches two new national Seed Funds. The funds, each one around 500 million Norwegian Kroner (EUR 60 million or USD 82 million), will be managed by Alliance Venture Spring in Oslo and ProVenture Management in Trondheim. The beneficiaries are the oil and gas as well as the IT industries (Arctic Startup).


“Aningaaq,” a short spinoff of the blockbuster film “Gravity” made by the director’s son and co-writer, Jonás Cuarón, made headlines this week and generated Oscar buzz (AJ). Set in remote Greenland, the seven-minute film provides a window into the life of the man Sandra Bullock’s character makes radio contact with during a scene in the movie (Foreign Policy Blogs). Next month, the participants of Below ZERO, an international pitching session for documentary film projects, will also compete for The Arctic Documentary Award, a NOK 40,000 award for the project with the best relevance and distribution potential (European Documentary Network). Al-Jazeera posted an in-depth feature on indigenous art in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and Maria Coryell-Martin, an expeditionary artist working in Greenland, is featured in The Arctic Journal along with her project, “Imagining the Arctic.” British photographer Cristian Barnett is also working in Greenland, and is raising funds through Kickstarter for a book of portraits of Arctic peoples titled “Life on the Line.”

In Alaskan educational news, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has found that incoming freshmen from the Fairbanks area were more prepared for college (FNM), and a longtime Bethel resident, Billy Strickland, has been chosen to run the Alaska School Activities Association (FNM). In Canada, educational programs are incorporating First Nations history and culture (AD), tackling high drop-out rates (NN), and reviving early childhood education programming (CBC). In Murmansk, Russia, schools are lightening children’s workloads to help cope with the draining polar night (AIR, in Russian).

In honor of last week’s Thanksgiving celebrations in the U.S., Eye on the Arctic posted some interesting Alaskan Thanksgiving-related statistics, and The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner highlighted the “unusual delicacies” present at Thanksgivings in rural Alaska. Hoping to increase food security and lower shipping costs from southern areas, residents in Nunavik, Quebec are trying to raise small farm animals such as rabbit and chicken (NN).

Nunavut’s recycling program received a sizeable CAN 26,000 donation from the Co-operators Group Ltd., which will provide a can-crusher that should lower the program’s transportation costs (NN, Newswire).

The Northwest Territories is launching its first “for-youth by-youth” radio program (NJ), and Finnish broadcasting company Yle launched a Sámi-language TV news series, “Yle Ođđasat,” which airs weekday afternoons on Yle TV1 (EOTA).

Kilpisjärvi, a village in Finland’s Arctic Lapland, set the country’s new record for most November snow with 80 centimeters of snow cover (EOTA).



According to the Department of Transportation, revenues from NWT’s Deh Cho Bridge across the Mackenzie River are about 17% lower than expected (CBC). In other road-related news, Old Crow, Yukon, is planning to build a winter road in 2014 if weather permits. The road, which will be more than 280 km long, will cost about CND 1.4 million, which will be split between the Yukon government and the First Nation. If all goes according to plan, the road will be ready for traffic by February 24 and remain open until March 17 (YN, EOTA, and CBC).


Rosgranitsa is planning to establish a permanent sea cargo checkpoint at Sabetta, in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District (AIR).


In sports, this week’s must-see article is again a video: check out the amazing series of videos from Alex Hibbert’s Dark Ice Project YouTube as he and his team prepare for an unsupported attempt to reach the North Pole this winter.


Communities across the NWT are examining the feasibility of hosting the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. Yellowknife will host the 2023 Canada Winter Games, and has therefore backed out of the running for the AWG, leaving the field wide open to potential host sites (NJ). Meanwhile, as the 2014 AWG are rapidly approaching,athletes in Nunavik are competing for a chance to represent the region (NN).

Victor Mercredi – the first hockey player from the NWT to play in the NHL – has been inducted into the NWT Sport Hall of Fame. Mercredi was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1973 (NJ).

Check out this profile of Roan Evans-Ehrict, an up-and-coming boxer from Whitehorse (YN).

Canadians marked the fourth-annual Sports Day on November 30 this year (CBC).


In January 2014 an extremely ambitious-sounding expedition – “Polar Ring” – will get underway, with eight  peopletravelling on drifting ice from Russia to Canada via the North Pole (AIR).


On Flickr this week we have Fox Lake from Mikofox, “A Winter Visitor” from Keith Williams, “Devon” shot by Dave Brosha, Reine, Norway from Mia Bennett via The Arctic Council, and “The Wait” by Clare Kines. Silversea, Our Amazing Planet and Anubha Momin posted Arctic-related twitpics, while michael_laggis posted midday sun in Barrow, Alaska, 17finnpersson posted a throwback Svalbard shot, and ole_gunnar posted a dark shot of Hammerfest, Norway on Instagram. On Facebook, Clare Kines shared his entries for the Global Arctic Awards, and Andrew Fore shared a shot of a polar bear camouflaged by snow. Inception Global Ltd. also pinned a photo of the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway, and Adam Batchelor posted a cool caribou drawing on Tumblr.

This week’s lone photo gallery comes from English Russia and features photos of Amderma, a small town in in northern Russia accessible only by plane. The collection is titled “Post Soviet Existence of the Northern City.”

For your film fix, check out “Aningaaq,” a short spinoff of the film “Gravity” made by the director’s son and co-writer, Jonás Cuarón. The film is set in remote Greenland.


In the grab bag this week, residents of Igloolik, Nunavut, were puzzled when tens of thousands of dollars of new construction materials showed up in the town’s dump (CBC). A recent spike in search and rescues in Nunavut has some wondering if the weather there has grown more extreme. Meteorologists say no, and local officials say an increase in overland travel by people with less skill and experience in Arctic survival is to blame (NN). In Finland, the northern town of Kilpisjärvi is buried under almost a meter of snow after an abnormally snowy November (AD). Foul weather has also hit northern Sweden this week, leaving several thousand households without electricity. The Barents Observer provides an interesting articleabout a group of Russian university students who spent two months out of their summer vacation on an island in the Russian Arctic clearing out military debris left over from the soviet era.

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