(Christina Zander and Alexis Flynn/Dow Jones Newswires via NASDAQ, 12 April 2012) -- STOCKHOLM - The Arctic region is likely to attract investment of $100 billion or more over the coming decade, according to a report by independent policy institute Chatham House and the Lloyd's of London insurance market. Interest in the Arctic region has intensified in recent years as a boom in commodities has seen companies scramble for precious resources to satisfy growing demand from China, among others. A melting ice cap hasn't only opened up new shipping routes that significantly cut transport times and distances between Europe and Asia, it has also made the region's estimated rich deposits of oil, gas and minerals more accessible. The report, published Thursday, notes that oil and gas, mining and the shipping industries will be the biggest drivers and beneficiaries of Arctic economic development in the coming years, but it says the Arctic's economic future depends principally on local investment conditions and global commodity prices. "One thing that stands out most clearly from this report is the significant level of uncertainty about the Arctic's future, both environmentally and economically," said Richard Ward, chief executive of Lloyd's. "Some of the technologies that will help to shape that future, such as those involved in deepwater drilling and ice management are already tried, while others are still in their infancy or yet to be developed." Growing interest in four key sectors--mineral resources, fisheries, logistics and Arctic tourism--could, according to the report, generate substantial investment in the region over the next decade, especially in the minerals sector.
Posted 12 April 2012; 11:22:41 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review Online, 11 April 2012) -- Two years ago, the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull caused havoc across Europe, with airborne ash grounding flights for six days. Eyjafjallajökull may be quiet now, but, according to The Telegraph, activity has been increasing in the volcano belt that stretches diagonally across the middle of Iceland from the Westman Islands in the south to the Lake Mývatn area in the north, along the line of the American and Eurasian geological tectonic plates. This region includes the volcano Katla, which has erupted about every 60 years (the last time in 1918), the volcano Hekla, which has erupted approximately once every ten years in the past decade (the last time in 2000), and Grímsvötn, which had a short eruption last year. In the 17th and 19th centuries, eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull were followed within months by eruptions of Katla, and now too, Katla has been increasingly restless. Increased activity has also been detected in the volcanoes under the largest ice cap, Vatnajökull, which is where Grímsvötn lies. ... The University of Iceland is working with Delft University of Technology and other institutions to develop more accurate systems to track and predict volcanic activity, in order to deal with the threat and damage of eruption.
Posted 12 April 2012; 10:04:26 PM. Permalink
(AFP via Yahoo! News, 11 April 2012) -- Canada and Denmark are close to settling a decades-old territorial dispute over a tiny island in the Arctic, a Canadian newspaper said Wednesday. Negotiators have put forth a proposal to split down the middle Hans Island, a barren rock of 1.3 square kilometers (0.5 square miles) that sits between Ellesmere Island and Greenland, the National Post reported. The plan, which has yet to be approved by either nation, would give Canada a second land border and settle a spat that is seen as both absurd and essential for economic development and better environmental stewardship of the Arctic. But officials would not confirm a settlement has been reached. "Canada and Denmark are cooperating in developing a mutually agreeable way forward with respect to Hans Island," said Joseph Lavoie, spokesman for Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird. The snow-covered site is uninhabitable, but the onset of global warming is expected to bring ship traffic to the region and open it up to mining, fishing or drilling for oil and gas. The dispute over the island, which is less than 100 meters (330 feet) wide, dates back to 1973 when the border was drawn between Canada and Greenland, which is part of Denmark. Danes and Canadians have visited it often since then to lay claim to it, leading to diplomatic protests, vivid online campaigns and even a Canadian call for a boycott of Danish pastries. Denmark fears that losing the battle for Hans Island would undermine relations with its giant overseas territory Greenland, while Canada is concerned it could lose ground in a far more consequential dispute with the United States over the Beaufort Sea. In 2010, however, Ottawa vowed in its first policy statement on the far north to quickly settle border disputes with Denmark and the United States, in order to move forward on broader issues of Arctic resource development.
Posted 12 April 2012; 12:00:24 AM. Permalink