The Arctic This Week: 27 July 2013 – 2 August 2013

August 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

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By Clare Kines, used with photographer’s permissionA farewell note from Tom

Dear Readers –

The Arctic Institute published the first issue of The Arctic This Week early in 2012. Since then, we’ve gone through well over 15,000 articles from around the Circle, educating ourselves and – we hope – helping you to stay educated and up-to-date as well. It’s been a wonderful story of growth and improvement. TATW has gotten more comprehensive, added non-English news to its offerings, brought on two great new authors (with more to come – stay tuned!), begun producing a beautiful weekly interactive PDF and news map, and grown to a subscribership of more than 1,400 in more than 40 countries all over the world. Maura, Kevin and I are so grateful to you for spending valuable time with us in this way each week.

The team is going to take the next couple of weeks off while we prepare for the hand-over and the addition of new authors. Once more: thanks from all of us to each of you for being part of our community of readers.

Reads of the Week

Getting ready to head out on vacation? A little short on time? Go to these outstanding and entertaining articles first.

An enlightening article on access to justice in Nunavut (where “justice arrives by plane and is dispensed in the local school gym or community center”) was published this week on the website of National Magazine, the official periodical of the Canadian Bar Association. Titled “The wolf and the sheep” (a metaphor borrowed from Mark Mossey, director of Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik Legal Services in Iqaluit), the article features interviews with lawyers practicing in the region.

And finally to the most quotidian but useful Read of the Week: The US State Department has put together a calendar of most/all upcoming Arctic-focused events and conferences.

The Political Scene




Arkhangelsk is supporting Murmansk’s position on the composition of Russia’s Arctic zone (AIR, in Russian). In a letter to Murmansk governor Marina Kovtun, Arkhangelsk governor Igor Orlov expressed his hope that the neighboring regions could further strengthen cooperation by working on this issue. In late July, Kovtun stressed to Prime Minister Medvedev that the main criterion for classifying certain areas as part of the “Arctic zone” (required as part of a new law in Russia) should be location above the Arctic Circle.

United States

Alaskan governor Sean Parnell’s speech “Partnership Across the Region Key to Our Success,” delivered at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region conference on July 16 is now available via the Top of the World Telegraph. So, too, is the schedule for August’s Week of the Arctic. Parnell’s colleague Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell (who recently secured a super PAC dubbed “Freedom’s Frontier” in support of his 2014 Senate bid (AD)), spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies this week on the future of economic development in the Arctic. A video of Treadwell’s conversation is available via the CSIS website, where you can also find the related report “The Benefits and Costs of Cold: Arctic Economics in the 21st Century.” Treadwell plans to run in 2014 against Senator Mark Begich, who helped move new legislation through the Senate Commerce Committee this week, including the Arctic Research, Monitoring and Amendments Act (Office of the Senator). At the State Senate level, Senators Huggins, Meyer, Dunleavy and Olson toured Barrow this week, discussing the priorities and challenges facing the North Slope Borough (ABM).


Patrick Borbey, chair of the Arctic Council’s Senior Arctic Officials, was back in Iqaluit from July 29th to August 1st after completing his first set of visits to Arctic Council member states (NN).



Author and Fairbanks resident Daniel Lum thinks that industry efforts to promote spill response in the Arctic are more PR than substance (AD).

Much discussion at this year’s United States Association of Energy Economics Conference focused on Senate Bill 21 and Alaska’s recent oil tax cut. Opinions ranged from those of University of Alaska Professor Matt Berman, who thought the cuts went too deep and wouldn’t provide enough revenue to the state, to those of ConocoPhillips’s consultant Mark Miller, who thought they didn’t go far enough. Alex DeMarban covers the issue well in this article for Alaska Dispatch.


Both Statoil and Petoro reported lower earnings for the first half of this year compared to last. Petoro’s revenues are down 20% this year, while Statoil’s dropped by 17%. The two state champions blamed lower commodity prices and increased investment costs for the declines (AB).

Swedish energy company Vattenfall is under fire for entering into an agreement to buy nuclear fuel from Russia. Critics are concerned about dependence on Russia, though Vattenfall’s supporters say the move will actually help diversify fuel sources and perhaps lower prices for consumers (EOTA).

In the UK, a group of MPs are raising concerns about the environmental impact of Arctic oil development and urging the government to call for a ban on oil and gas exploration in the region (Wired).


The Arctic Energy Alliance’s July newsletter highlights a wood-pellet heating project in Yellowknife and passive solar ventilation heating efforts in Yellowknife and Inuvik.

Proposals to allow hydraulic fracturing in regions around Gros Morne National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Newfoundland have divided residents. Some are concerned about the impacts on tourism and the region’s natural beauty, while others are interested in the boost oil and gas development would bring to the economy (CBC).


Uralmash Oil Gas Equipment Holding will be producing hardware for Novatek’s new “Arctic” drilling rigs. These compact new rigs were commissioned by Novatek for onshore applications in Arctic conditions and feature a fully enclosed and heated drilling apparatus to allow year-round operations in all conditions (AIR – Russian).

In the Pechora River delta of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, oil and gas company CH Invest is working to mothball a gas well in the Kumzhinskoe field that has become endangered by a change in the course of the river (AIR – Russian).

Transneft announced this week that it will increase the capacity of the East Siberian – Pacific Ocean Pipeline by 80% in order to carry 67 million tons of oil by 2018. No news on who will fund the project. Transneft has tried to get Rosneft to pay for some of the upgrades as much of the excess capacity will be filled by that company’s growing exports to China (AIR – Russian).

Employees of Shtokman Development AG were tasked with cleaning up an illegal waste site that has been in use for 25 years near Teriberka. Teriberka, incidentally, was the designated location for on-shore facilities to support the Shtokman gas project (AIR – Russian).

Greenpeace calls attention to the poor environmental records and lack of offshore experience of both Gazprom and Rosneft as a harbinger of things to come as the two companies continue to acquire more offshore Arctic licenses.

Science, Environment Wildlife

Climate and wildfire

Research into Greenlandic ice doesn’t just offer insight into today’s issues, either. A new study of data from an ice core helps give credence to the idea that an asteroid impact about 13,000 years ago may have contributed to a sudden change in climate in the northern hemisphere and the dying-out of many large mammal species (BBC).

Last, enjoy this infographic on the life of an iceberg from the CBC.


Moving now to top terrestrial predators, Sweden and the European Commission are at odds over whether a wolf hunt is the best way to control the Scandinavian country’s population, which some feel has grown too large (EOTA).

Expeditions and initiatives

First in the better-news department, take a few minutes and enjoy the latest video from the Students on Ice expedition, which has now concluded.


Military / Search–Rescue


Vessels from Russia’s Northern and Black Sea fleets discovered an abandoned Norwegian sailboat in the Bermuda triangle (yes, really) this week while on a trans-Atlantic campaign (BO). Friends of the boat’s owners were traveling to Norway with the boat when its rudder broke and a passing cruise vessel rescued the sailors.

The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya “came out with flying colors” during full-throttle sea trials in the Barents Sea on the weekend of July 27th (India Today). The ship’s formal induction into the Indian Navy is scheduled for early 2014.


United States

Following the Stuart Creek 2 Fire, Senator Lisa Murkowski has asked the U.S. Army to review the cause of the fire and report to Congress about developing procedures for weapons testing on high-risk fire days (FDNM). The fire, which began on June 19, reportedly cost upwards of USD $20 million to fight.


Police in Greenland ended the search for Nick Duus Hansen on July 27th (KNR, in Danish). The 19-year-old went missing while sailing off Narsaq Harbor.




New mapping suggests that the 1,500 km ocean-floor volcanic mountain chain that stretches from Jan Mayen Island northwards may hold lucrative deposits of minerals that could supply significant revenues to Norway, should its oil riches run out (KNR, in Danish).

Shareholders of Northland Resources approved a USD 300 million rescue package for the company which should allow it to restart operations at the Pajala mine in Northern Sweden (EOTA).

A whopping 50.7 gram gold nugget was discovered by Sirkka and Kari Merenluoto in Lemmenjoen, northern Finland, though it doesn’t hold a candle to the 127 gram nugget they found last year (LK – Finnish).


Falling gold prices translated into a CAD 24.4 million loss for Agnico Eagle in the last quarter, and the company announced this week that it would significantly cut spending on exploration work at its Meliadine gold mine project in Nunavut (NN).

The Quebec government has officially confirmed its interest in taking on a minority stake in the Hopes Advance iron mine project in Nunavik. The project will supply 10 to 20 million tons of iron ore a year for up to 48 years, in addition to providing needed jobs and infrastructure improvements for the remote region (NN).


Australian company North Pacific Coal is moving ahead with plans to mine coal in the Chukotka region of far northeastern Russia. It will complete a feasibility study of the project sometime next year (AIR – Russia).


China’s interest in Greenland’s rare earth deposits may be driven by over-extraction of Chinese stores of the metals and the fact that China may not have as large a reserve of these strategic metals as previously thought (IceNews).

Fishing, Shipping Other Business News


In shipping news this week, we start by genuflecting before Russian icebreaker 50 Years of Victory, which this week made the 100th voyage to the North Pole on record (AIR, in Russian). One is hard-pressed not to love this article, brief though it is, for the additional details it contains. For example: The icebreaker Yamal holds the individual record for trips to the Pole (46), but it is clearly overshadowed by the individual who has been there the most times – Irina Mikhailova, who has been working for years as a waitress on polar vessels and has been to the Pole 65 times. Now that is someone I want to meet. Further details from Barents Observer: of the 100 trips to the North Pole, 85 have been Russian vessels. Germany, the only non-Arctic state to make the trip, has done so three times. Canada has only gone once. Sweden, which has no Arctic coastline, has made the trip 8 times – second place behind Russia’s 85. The first surface vessel to get to the Pole was the icebreaker Arktika, in 1977. The first submarine to do so was the USS Nautilus, in 1958.


General business and economic news

A weighty and thoughtful report on development in several Arctic economic sectors and on the role of private industry in general in the High North comes from CSIS this week, available here.

Health, Education, Culture Society


Finally, seeking to better address health challenges in the North, the Ottawa Health Services Network is reviewing its program for medical appointments in Nunavut (CBC).



An enlightening article on access to justice in Nunavut (where “justice arrives by plane and is dispensed in the local school gym or community center”) was published this week on the website of National magazine, the official periodical of the Canadian Bar Association. Titled “The wolf and the sheep” (a metaphor borrowed from Mark Mossey, director of Maliiganik Tukisiiniakvik Legal Services in Iqaluit), the article features interviews with lawyers practicing in the region.

Nearly 1,000 people are expected to move to the Yamal Peninsula as part of a new government-backed program (AIR, in Russian). Interest in the program, which has already relocated 43 people, has come from natives of Russia as well as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.



Developments in air capacity occupied a surprising share of infrastructure news this week, including an absolutely fascinating brief story about how the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is making use of Sweden’s Arctic space facility near Kiruna as a test location for a new model of supersonic plane (EOTA). They’re working on solving one of the key problems with the now-defunct Concorde, which was the massive sonic boom it made when breaking the sound barrier.

A final piece worth checking out comes from the Conference Board of Canada. Broadly mentioned on Twitter this week, their recent report “Mapping the Long-Term Options for Canada’s North: Telecommunications and Broadband Connectivity” takes an in-depth look at the current state of affairs and possible future for northern Canada in this critical infrastructure component.


Young Nunavut wrestlers compete this week in the Canada Summer Games, held this year in Sherbrooke, QC (NN).

The Arctic Race of Norway, a four stage bicycle race from Bodø to Harstad via the Lofoten, will begin next week. has posted video footage of the race course that winds its way through some spectacular scenery along Norway’s coast. Worth a view if you can’t make it to see the real thing!

The 97 swimmers from 17 countries who will take part in the upcoming Bering Strait Swim between Russia and Alaska have begun to congregate in Kamchatka. The race was attempted for the first time last year but had to be cancelled when entrance into US territorial waters was rejected. This year, it appears everyone has their visas in order (AIR – Russian).

The CAD 40 million aquatics center that is being planned in Iqaluit will mean big changes for Atii Fitness, the town’s only fitness center. Atii Fitness will be given a space on the center’s third floor that is 2 to 3 times bigger than its current location, which is good as Atii had already outgrown its current space (NN).

The Last First Expedition, a four-man team that is seeking to row the Northwest Passage this summer, had a close and harrowing experience with an ice floe last week. You can read the blow-by-blow account in this article in the Vancouver Sun.

Skiers in Whitehorse went to great lengths to hold a ski race in July, including piling snow and burying it under sawdust and tarps in March, then spreading it with shovels and wheelbarrows across the backyard of JP Grand Prix founder John Perry to set a track for a summer ski race. CBC provides a video of the competition which included an improbable eight former Olympians.

The “Leif the Lucky” Marathon will be held 17 August in the area around Qassiarsuk, Greenland. In addition to the full marathon, there will also be a half marathon and 10 km course (KNR, in Danish).

The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic was held last week. The 150-mile race through the wilderness attracted 13 competitors, five of whom actually finished the course. This article in Alaska Dispatch describes the experiences of this year’s competitors and makes it very clear why none of the contestants from the 2012 race decided to give it another go this year.

A bear that has developed a nasty habit of chasing bicyclists in Whitehorse, Yukon, has drawn the attention of conservation officers who have set out to trap and relocate it (CBC).

Arctic Images

Move on to this week’s Instagram and Twitter haul, with images of: a massive ice face and two souls on the prow of a boat near Svalbard (@elnarperm); the Lena River ferry (@yakutia); an amazingly cyan-blue meltwater channel on the Greenland ice sheet (Sarah Das); the midnight sun over the ocean (@wanderingwyatt), a similar shot from shore on the North Slope (@alaskamaxxx), a third from @the_master_key, and a fourth from @staciared2, this one taken from the Hurtigruten; a cruise ship at rest off of Spitsbergen (@albumeditions); Paul Allen’s luxury yacht Octopus at rest at Pond Inlet, Nunavut (Paul Tukker); images of the Arctic Ocean from a plane overhead (Stella Guan); a breathtaking photo of the Arctic Tern from the crow’s-nest vantage point (@kodonova); an adorable photo of a thickly-clad child chasing a fat, furry puppy in the Nenets region (Diana Mastracci); an Arctic fox up close (@hall_evanw); a great Norway sunset (@perrydisehotel); one of the Students on Ice at the Ilulissat ice fjord (@lexie_818); noctilucent clouds from space (by Luca Parmitano, an astronaut aboard the Volare mission); “Save the Arctic” graffiti covering other graffiti in Toronto (@JTToronto); the icebreaker 50 Years of Victory during its most recent North Pole excursion (@olga_michi); the mosque in Inuvik, NWT (@ehnsee); Magdalena fjord on Svalbard (@albumeditions); Greenpeace’s ship the Arctic Sunrise at rest in Bergen (@greenpeacenorge); and a classic, perfect shot of a bald eagle in flight from @Alaska_editions.

The Grab Bag

Now to those bits and pieces that fit nowhere else.

The sun dipped below the horizon for Barrow, Alaska on 2 August for the first time since May (FDNM). / You can now register for the upcoming Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavík, Iceland 12-14 October. / In the lengthy process to photo-map the Alaskan coastline (all of it), St. Lawrence Island is the most recently-completed chunk (Arctic Sounder). / God bless the US State Department for putting together a calendar of all the upcoming Arctic-focused events and conferences. / Elfin Icelandic genius Björk, who has incorporated throat-singing into some of her previous work, is now teaming up with David Attenborough on a new documentary about the evolution of music (IceNews). / The search for this year’s Miss Rovaniemi is underway (LK, in Finnish). / Travel to Alaska in summer with the Daily Mail. / The maker of the reality show “Ice Cold Gold” thinks Greenland could be a reality-TV hotspot (KNR, in Danish). Or, instead, we could not traumatize it that way. One observer thinks this season of “Ice Cold Gold” has made positive strides towards representing Greenland positively, rather than as a sort of Arctic Mordor (KNR, in Danish). Indeed, one of the miners apparently feels that “Greenland is possibly the best place in the world” (KNR, in Danish). / A redesign of a 17th-century yacht has been launched from Arkhangelsk (AIR, in Russian). / I am a total sucker for any of the long reads in Up Here, and the latest from Margo Pfeiff doesn’t disappoint. This one is on archaeologist Patricia Sutherland and the possibility of a second Norse site in Canada, this time in Nunavut (the other is on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland). / A bunch of drunk young people stole an asphalt roller in Murmansk. They were caught (MOI Russia, Murmansk, in Russian). / An outbreak of botulism poisoning has struck Greenland’s northernmost village, Siorapaluk (KNR, in Danish). / The International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences has its call for sessions open. The conference will be in Prince George, BC from 22-26 May 2014. / We’re so glad to welcome Barents Nova back from its summer break. Catch up on all the English-language news from the Russian Barents region that you’ve missed. / “Wolverine,” the latest installment in the Marvel series, has the Yukon as his backstory. Listen to a radio interview about that here, from the CBC.

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)

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 (GM)

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)

Moscow Times (MT)

Natural Gas Europe (NGE)

Naval Today (NT)

New York Times (NYT)

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)

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