(Reuters, 17 April 2012) -- Russian police detained two dozen Greenpeace activists on Tuesday for protesting against Arctic drilling after Russia's largest oil producer signed a landmark deal with Exxon Mobil Corp to jointly prospect for oil in the far north. A spokeswoman for the environmental group, Vera Bakasheva, said a total of 23 activists were arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally outside Russia's Arctic Oil and Gas Conference in Moscow. "We wanted to give the message to the people at the conference that drilling in the Arctic is dangerous and needs to be stopped," Bakasheva said. The protest was organized after Rosneft and Exxon earlier this week sealed a wide-reaching partnership granting both sides access to each others' reserves. The deal paved the way for both companies to prospect for oil in three areas of Russia's Arctic Kara Sea, estimated by Rosneft to hold 36 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.
Posted 18 April 2012; 4:18:00 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review) -- As the largest town outside the capital region, Akureyri (pop. 17,000), is the industrial and service capital for North Iceland as well as a center for culture and education with strong historical roots and numerous tourist attractions. The Artists’ Alley is the town’s cultural center and one of its most colorful attractions. The alley is literally crawling with bohemians and art lovers during the annual Summer Art Festival from mid-June to the end of August. Akureyri has fostered some of Iceland’s most beloved writers and their spirits greet visitors in their homes-cum-museums, and at the local Folk Museum visitors can learn about the town’s history since Helgi magri (“the skinny”) settled there in the 9th century. The Akureyri Theater, the only professional theater outside the capital region, is also worth a visit.
Posted 18 April 2012; 11:05:15 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 April 2012) -- Russia is planning to launch a tourism project on the Franz Josef archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev said on Thursday. “We want to use it [the archipelago] for tourism purposes in the very near future,” Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council, said during an international conference dedicated to security and cooperation in the Arctic held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. One of the most remote and rugged Arctic landscapes in the world, Franz Josef Land is located to the north of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a total area of some 16,230 square miles. The islands are almost uninhabited, except for several hamlets built by Russian settlers. Patrushev, along with a group of foreign participants in the conference, visited the archipelago on Wednesday. He said it was the first time foreigners have set foot there. Environmentalists say the move will not damage the unique Arctic ecosystems, as high costs of $15,000-$20,000 per person and a short tourist season lasting from mid-July to mid-September, will serve as a natural limit for the number of visitors. “This is quite a normal occurence. This summer we will organize a similar tour for our supporters with stops at the Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. This would be a predominantly sea cruise with minimum time ashore. Tourists would mainly watch bird colonies or, for example, walrus breeding grounds from the ship,” Mikhail Stishov, a WWF Russia coordinator for Arctic conservation projects, said.
Posted 18 April 2012; 12:57:21 AM. Permalink