(Felicity Barringer/New York Times, 6 March 2013) -- At a time when large dams are being taken down, not put up, the state of Alaska is proposing to construct one of the tallest and most expensive hydroelectric dams ever built in North America. The Alaska Energy Authority is planning to build a 735-foot, $5.2 billion structure on the Susitna River in a largely empty south-central part of the state, which is watered by runoff from the arc of the Alaska Range. The dam, designed to generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, would create a new power supply for more than two-thirds of the state’s population. But in Alaska, where natural energy resources and wildlife are both foundations of the economy, the proposed dam presents twin conundrums. One is economic: which is better, creating a reliable source of hydroelectricity and weaning some of the state off natural gas, or building a spur off a proposed pipeline to bring gas from the North Slope to the populated region from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula? Or both? The other is environmental: what serves the environment best, replacing natural gas-fired electricity with hydroelectricity, which is free of greenhouse gas emissions, or keeping the Susitna watershed untrammeled and avoiding the risks involved in changing the dynamics of a major salmon stream? ...
Posted 10 March 2013; 8:56:17 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 21 February 2013) -- YAKUTSK, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - A new gold deposit has been discovered Russia’s Siberian republic of Yakutia, the region’s economics ministry said on Thursday. The Gora Rudnaya in the republic's Aldan District deposit may hold about 200 metric tons of gold, according to the statement. The deposit has already been registered with the Federal Agency for Subsoil Usage. It will be auctioned shortly after its value is determined. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), a vast Siberian land of taiga and permafrost, is known for its vast gold and diamond reserves. From Voice of Russia: "Experts knew that it was worth looking at after they assessed the content of gold and ore parameters. The deposit will be put up for auction in three years. Yakutia’s gold output amounted to 21.2 tons last year. "
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:37:38 AM. Permalink
(UPI, 20 February 2013) -- NAIROBI, Kenya - Awareness of the issue of melting arctic sea ice is much higher than the international community's attention to the matter, a U.N. official said from Nairobi. Changing climate patterns means international oil and gas companies are looking to exploit the estimated 30 percent of the world's unrecovered natural gas and 70 percent of the world's undiscovered oil under in arctic waters. The U.N. Environment Program, in its annual report, said summer ice sheet in 2012 was 18 percent smaller than the previous low record set in 2007. "Changing environmental conditions in the arctic -- often considered a bellwether for global climate change -- have been an issue of concern for some time, but as of yet this awareness has not translated into urgent action," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement. Problems with Shell's exploration campaign in northern Alaskan waters last year raised concerns about the potential risk of operating in extreme environments. UNEP said no plans for arctic exploration should move ahead without taking steps to ensure the pristine environment, and those who rely on it, is protected.
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:11:45 AM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Foreign Policy Blogs via Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 12 February 2013) -- Australia and the Arctic aren't often mentioned in the same sentence. One tends to hear more about Australia and Antarctica, since the country has an Antarctic Division and carries out scientific research at the icy continent not so far away from Tasmania. But I think that a comparison of Australia and the Arctic, particularly the Northern Territory (NT) and the Canadian Arctic, is a fruitful one. When I came across an Economist article on the NT from last September entitled "Northern lights," I began thinking about the lands under the Aurora Borealis and Australis. Both Australia and the Arctic seen as exotic and remote, albeit at opposite ends of the earth. The NT constitutes Australia's landmass but contains only one percent of the population. Canadian territories, which make up 39.5 percent of the country's land, are similarly sparsely populated, with only 100,000 people (0.3 percent of the population). Both the NT and Canada's territories are resource-rich frontiers with large indigenous populations. The indigenous populations in the NT and in northern Canada, particularly Nunavut, are a higher percentage of the overall population than in the rest of Australia and Canada, respectively. Yet although both regions are in countries that enjoy some of the world's highest living standards, they are relatively underdeveloped hinterlands.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:20:25 PM. Permalink
(Nikita Sorokin/Voice of Russia, 1 February 2013) -- Russia’s Regional Development Ministry continues consultations with experts on a proposed ‘Law on the Russian Arctic’. According to the United States Geological Survey, the bed of the Arctic Ocean contains one fourth of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas. This treasure trove is quickly opening as climate change melts the Arctic Ice Cap. Dr Mikhail Babenko is an oil and gas expert of the Worldwide Fund for Nature: "Seabed minerals, fish and promising transport routes are also becoming available. In 2012, traffic along the Northeast Passage from Europe to Asia posted a sharp rise. Many governments are now after tapping these resources for the sake of speeding up economic growth." Dr Sergei Pryamikov is in charge of international cooperation programmes at Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg: "Active Arctic exploration brings together some 15 nations. The treaty on the Svalbard Archipelago now brings together as many as 40. Importantly, China, Japan, South Korea and India are also showing great interest in Arctic resources. Several countries advocate a borderless international zone in the Arctic Ocean. Russia, however, continues to insist that Arctic borders do exist, and drawing them must comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."
Posted 11 February 2013; 1:55:47 PM. Permalink
(Andreas Østhagen/The Arctic Institute, 19 December 2012) -- The prospect of offshore oil and gas activity in the waters around Greenland constitutes a highly contentious issue in the larger debate on Arctic petroleum development. Given Greenland’s special status as a part of the Danish Realm, with a high degree of self-governance and a majority Inuit population, oil and gas drilling there has engaged actors with a wide range of interests. Arctic oil and gas development is often generalised into a two-sided conflict between those who emphasise the protection of the environment and those who seek potential profits, with the interests of local communities variably used in favour of one or the other depending on the area of the region under question. Some of the dimensions that seem to determine much of the actual development are often lost in this dichotomy, to the dismay of those in favour of an informed debate. Taking into account that Greenland is just one of the many parts of the Arctic that is experiencing this development, with its own unique characteristics, this article sets out to shed light on the importance of internal political and commercial factors when discussing petroleum development around the island.
Posted 4 January 2013; 5:24:21 PM. Permalink
(Anja Kristine Salo/Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, 09 October 2012) -- 130 representatives from the government, indigenous peoples and business met in Tromsø on September 10 to discuss extractive industries in the Barents Region, an area where indigenous peoples have lived their traditional life for centuries. "It is huge uncertainty connected to what's happening up north. The indigenous peoples' opinions are not taken into account as often as we would have wanted. This is a great problem," says the President of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, Mr. Egil Olli. He is one of the participants at the seminar arranged by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Working group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region. Scientists, representatives from the mining industry, local, regional and national government officials were also present at the seminar. Many sensitive, difficult and important question and challenges facing member states, indigenous peoples and business entities in the Barents region were addressed at the seminar. "We face a great risk of evolving conflicts between states, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in this bonanza of oil, natural gas, minerals and plentiful waters in the Arctic. The indigenous peoples in the Arctic have to find the equilibrium in this boom and tackle these challenges, hopefully in co-operation with the national states, business entities, UN and other, regional and international bodies," says Lars Anders Baer, Chairman of the Working group of Indigenous peoples in the Barents Region. The State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that the indigenous peoples must be consulted.
Posted 12 October 2012; 4:38:30 PM. Permalink
(Emily Schwing/KUAC - Fairbanks via Eye on the Arctic, 11 October 2012) -- The Arctic Village of Kivalina may run out of fresh water this winter. Governor Sean Parnell declared a disaster in the village last month after heavy rainfall flooded the Wulik River and washed away some of the city's surface water piping. By the time the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management had shipped a new high speed pump and pipe to the community, it was too late according to City Administrator, Janet Mitchell. Slush clogged the pipes and the crew gave up. It's not clear how much water made it into the tanks. Mitchell, who grew up in Kivalina, says residents have always tried to conserve water. But the majority of Kivalina's 436 residents don't have boats or snowmachines to access large quantities of fresh drinking water. So they use the local washeteria. It's unlikely to remain open through the winter.
Posted 12 October 2012; 3:19:17 PM. Permalink
(Marine Science Today, 22 September 2012) -- A committee of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK is calling for a complete stop of drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic until certain safety issues have been taken care of. The Environmental Audit Committee has previously voiced their concerns that a spill could cause catastrophic environmental damage. The MPs say that current oil spill cleanup methods are not adequate. They are calling for a pan-Arctic spill response standard, full liability for firms and an environmental sanctuary in the Arctic. Both BP and Shell are involved in Arctic drilling projects. BP’s plans are temporarily on hold and they wouldn’t provide the MPs with evidence that they have an adequate plan for spill response. Shell has stopped drilling for the winter, but they claim that their spill response is adequate. “There appears to be a lack of strategic thinking and policy coherence within Government on this issue, illustrated by its failure to demonstrate how future oil and gas extraction from the Arctic can be reconciled to commitments to limit temperature rises to 2°C,” the MPs said. ”The Government should seek to resolve this matter.” You can read more from the BBC here: MPs call to halt Arctic drilling amid safety concerns.
Posted 22 September 2012; 10:42:47 AM. Permalink
(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
(U.S. Department of the Interior press release via PennEnergy, 17 February 2012) -- Building on the Obama Administration’s record of taking steps to expand safe and responsible development of our nation’s oil and gas resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the next steps toward energy exploration activities in shallow waters in the Arctic during a limited period this summer. Today’s announcement is informed by the latest science, and continues to be guided by important new safety standards as well as lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Those steps include: today’s approval by DOI’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.’s (Shell) Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) for the Chukchi Sea; coordinated exercises and emergency response planning by U.S. agencies in the Arctic; expanded scientific work, information collection and data sharing among agencies, industry, and research institutions to inform Arctic planning; and undertaking long-term, landscape-scale planning for the Arctic. These steps are the latest in a series of initiatives in line with President Obama’s commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach, which includes a focus on the safe and responsible production of homegrown oil and natural gas resources by American workers.
Posted 20 February 2012; 4:23:01 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden via Eye on the Arctic, 1 February 2012) -- This week is festival time in the Arctic Circle town of Jokkmokk in Sweden's Far North. But not all the Sami, the indigenous people of Sweden's Arctic, will be celebrating. Mining, forestry and hydroelectricity provide lucrative business opportunities across northern Sweden. But exploiting natural resources often leads to conflict with Sami herders when reindeer grazing areas are blocked or damaged. High mineral and iron ore prices have led to an explosion in prospecting in recent years and increased the number of conflicts, with a regular stream of objections being brought to court. One of them centres on a mine planned just 40 kilometres west of Jokkmokk. The mining company Beowulf has been accused of illegal test drills that damage Sami grazing lands. Mattias Pirak from the Jåhkågaska Sami reindeer herding community told Sami Radio that opportunities to make big profits from iron ore should not be an excuse to destroy the environment. ... Pirak and other Sami herders are organising a demonstration to coincide with one the most visible demonstrations of Sami culture. Every year the Jokkmokk parade provides a blaze of colour in the dark of winter as herders lead their reindeer through the snow in traditional dress. The market is expecting about 40,000 visitors many of them foreign tourists, and the Sami protestors will also target them with flyers printed in English. However Mattias Pirak says that after the market protest his community will continue with their campaign — and that they will never give up.
Posted 1 February 2012; 11:57:23 PM. Permalink
(Radio Sweden/Eye on the Arctic, 30 December 2011) -- The job market is bright in Norrbotten County, fuelled by growing global demand for iron-ore and other industrial and precious metals. And while the ground under the city of Kiruna is sinking because of the iron ore mine, it is precisely because of that iron ore, that the job market is soaring. “In Kiruna we have 2.8 percent unemployment,” says Terje Raattamaa, the head of the Employment Office in Kiruna. “That is one of the lowest unemployment rates in Sweden.” Just outside the small mining town of Pajala, Northland Resources, an international mining company, is currently building two new iron ore mines. “We’ve done exploration during the past seven years, but before we started the construction last year, there was just a swamp area and trees here,” says Niclas Dahlström from Northland Resources. “Now we’re investing over US $720 million in the site.” Northland Resources already has three large customers that will buy every single ounce of iron ore the company produces during its first decade. Two traders, Standard Bank and Stemcor, will buy the product and sell it. The third customer, the large steel conglomerate Tata Steel, will use the raw material itself. Northland Resources says it will employ hundreds of people. “During the next two years we’ll employ 400 new people and about 200 people working with logistics, driving large trucks to put the product on rail,” says Dahlström.
Posted 30 December 2011; 6:14:45 PM. Permalink
(Jake Neher/KBRW – Barrow via APRN, 4 May 2011) -- Whalers in Northern Alaska are off to a strong start for the 2011 spring season. Crews have been in full gear since the first leads opened up in the Arctic Sea ice. [mp3]
(CBC News, 11 April 2011) -- One of Canada's largest fur auction houses says it cannot meet the soaring demand for polar bear hides, provoking concerns about overhunting in southern Hudson Bay and other areas. Demand and prices for polar bear hides have been escalating over the past five seasons, says an official with Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont. Russians are particularly interested in the hides, he said. "The supply does not even come close to meeting the demand," Mark Downey, the auction house's chief executive officer, told CBC News. At the company's most recent sale in January, polar bear hides sold for an average of $5,000, Downey said. One sold for a record high of $11,000. Each buyer at the sale wanted all 80 of the polar bear hides on offer but had to settle for two or three hides each, he said. "There's a lot of interest for really top-quality specimens, 10-footers-plus, well-handled bears for the Russian market," he said. "There's a lot of Russian businessmen or what have you that would like to have a polar bear rug."
Posted 11 April 2011; 5:27:44 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 20 March 2011) -- Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Jón Bjarnason has declared his support for Norway’s and Canada’s case against the European Union at the World Trade Organization regarding the ban on the import of seal products. In a meeting with the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Board on Friday, Iceland requested to participate in the complaints committee’s case as a third party, Fréttabladid reports. The dispute concerns an EU regulation barring that the import of seal products to EU market territories. An announcement from the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture issued yesterday stated that Iceland’s support for Norway’s and Canada’s cause is consistent with Iceland’s earlier declarations to the international arena. For example, statements made by Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, who used to chair the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, to that regard to Joe Borg, the EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, in 2009 were referenced. The Norwegian news website ABC Nyheter claimed that the issue had caused an internal dispute within the Icelandic government. Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson is said to be against Iceland declaring support for Norway and Canada in their case against the EU. Click here to read about seal hunting in Iceland and the EU ban.
Posted 31 March 2011; 10:26:49 AM. Permalink
(Jake Neher/The Arctic Sounder, 21 February 2011) -- The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) is calling on Alaska's Congressional delegation to introduce subsistence whaling legislation before 2012. Officials say legislation is needed in case an international regulatory body fails to pass a harvest quota renewal for subsistence hunters. AEWC members and officials passed this and four other resolutions last week during the commission's two-day Mini-Convention in Barrow. The current five year block quota for native subsistence whaling is ending in 2012. At that time, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) will decide whether or not to renew or adjust the quota for another five years. But AEWC officials say the international body is dysfunctional, and has used the quota as a bargaining chip in negotiations on other issues unrelated to Native subsistence whaling. They fear political gridlock in 2012, which could leave the 11 communities in the AEWC without a set quota. A subsistence quota renewal needs the approval three-quarters of IWC member nations to pass. Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission Vice President George Ahmaogak says it's time to start considering all options to protect against a quota denial from IWC. "It's getting harder and harder to work with the International Whaling Commission," Ahmaogak says, "even though we abide by all their rules, do the census work, a lot of the requirements and mandates by the IWC. Unfunded mandates, if you will. It's getting harder and harder. In 2012, it's going to be a challenge. So, I think we're better off going for domestic legislation. That's why we pushed this resolution on the floor." According to the AEWC resolution, the International Whaling Commission does allow subsistence whaling without a set quota "to meet cultural and nutritional need" under domestic national legislation. It says such legislation needs to correspond with IWC requirements.
Posted 21 February 2011; 11:19:53 PM. Permalink
(University of California - Riverside press release via Science Daily, 16 February 2011) -- Geologists drilling an exploratory geothermal well in 2009 in the Krafla volcano in Iceland encountered a problem they were simply unprepared for: magma (molten rock or lava underground) which flowed unexpectedly into the well at 2.1 kilometers (6,900 ft) depth, forcing the researchers to terminate the drilling. "To the best of our knowledge, only one previous instance of magma flowing into a geothermal well while drilling has been documented," said Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, who led the research team. "We were drilling a well that was designed to search for very deep -- 4.5 kilometers (15,000 feet) -- geothermal resources in the volcano. While the magma flow interrupted our project, it gave us a unique opportunity to study the magma and test a very hot geothermal system as an energy source." Currently, a third of the electric power and 95 percent of home heating in Iceland is produced from steam and hot water that occurs naturally in volcanic rocks. "The economics of generating electric power from such geothermal steam improves the higher its temperature and pressure," Elders explained. "As you drill deeper into a hot zone the temperature and pressure rise, so it should be possible to reach an environment where a denser fluid with very high heat content, but also with unusually low viscosity occurs, so-called 'supercritical water.' Although such supercritical water is used in large coal-fired electric power plants, no one had tried to use supercritical water that should occur naturally in the deeper zones of geothermal areas." Elders and colleagues report in the March issue of Geology (the research paper was published online on Feb. 3) that although the Krafla volcano, like all other volcanoes in Iceland, is basaltic (a volcanic rock containing 45-50 percent silica), the magma they encountered is a rhyolite (a volcanic rock containing 65-70 percent silica).
Posted 16 February 2011; 9:51:58 PM. Permalink
(Reuters via moneycontrol.com, 19 January 2011) -- A truce called in a bidding war for Canada's Baffinland Iron Mines sets the stage for an environmental battle over the Arctic project and the impact of shipping the ore through ocean ice to world markets. The development, on the drawing boards for decades, took a big step forward last week. ArcelorMittal and Nunavut Iron agreed to drop competing bids and extend a joint, C$590 million (USD 596 million) offer to take control of a project that could end up costing more than C$4 billion to build. Baffinland's board has endorsed the joint bid. The company, which hopes to have the mine producing by 2014, is expected to file a draft environmental impact study with territorial and federal regulators in the next few weeks, government officials say. While mining is not new to Canada's Far North, nothing has been attempted on the scale of Baffinland's Mary River project on Baffin Island, about 1,000 km (650 miles) northwest of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut territory. The mine is thought to have enough high-grade iron ore to meet Europe's needs for years. But plans to get the ore off the island include building the North America's northernmost railroad and bringing in a fleet of ships that can break the ice year-round. The impact of ships cutting through water that's covered with ice in winter is a concern, said Martin von Mirbach, Arctic program director at World Wildlife Fund Canada. "It's something that has to be carefully studied," said von Mirbach, saying it has the potential to change life for people and wildlife in a region that experiences 24-hour darkness in winter and round-the-clock daylight in summer. Some local Inuit fear year-round ship traffic will disrupt the migration corridors of wildlife, ranging from polar bears to beluga whales, as well as their own travel on the ice.
Posted 19 January 2011; 11:29:21 AM. Permalink
(Sara Wheeler, The Independent, 16 January 2011) -- The Russian Arctic is savage. I travelled across it to research my book on the Arctic Circle. My nostrils froze, one of my teeth exploded, and my exhaled breath fell in a tinkle of crystals. The region is so isolated that reindeer-herding residents refer to the rest of Russia as "the mainland". But the landscape is the most powerful I have ever seen: dazzling, pristine, a kind of biological haiku. I love the pared-down existence of polar lands and the grace of their peoples under pressure. Chukotka is an Arctic region the size of Turkey in the Russian Far East (it's the bit Sarah Palin can see from Alaska). This magical slab of ice and tundra has no roads at all outside the capital, Anadyr. It took me two years to weasel my way in, but when I got there, I ran into President Medvedev. That morning he had stepped out of his helicopter to pat a reindeer and listen to some Chukchi folk songs in a local school. He was the first Russian head of state to bother; no tsar had ever come within a thousand miles. Five days previously, in a speech on Arctic policy to the Security Council in Moscow, Medvedev had flagged the reason for his visit. "This region," he said, "accounts for around 20 per cent of Russia's gross domestic product and 22 per cent of our national exports." He was talking about oil and gas. And now he wants more. The emergence of the Arctic as an energy frontier has shunted the entire zone into public consciousness, and hydrocarbon extraction is certainly set to remain an economic driver across the polar lands, not just in Russia. I'm not going to stop burning up my own share, so it would be hypocritical of me to call for a drilling ban. But I hope we don't foul up one of our last true wildernesses. ... And why is so much of the Russian Arctic closed to foreigners? Who is hiding what? On the Domodedovo plane back from Anadyr to Moscow, I sat next to a geochemist who had been working on a research vessel scouting the Barents Sea for potential drilling sites. When I asked if safety procedures were policed, he rolled his eyes and ordered another drink.
Posted 16 January 2011; 2:05:20 AM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Foreign Policy Blogs, 15 January 2011) -- After several months of bidding wars, ArcelorMittal has beaten out Nunavut Iron Ore Acquisition to acquire a majority of Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation’s shares, thereby winning control of the Mary River iron ore deposits on Baffin Island, in Canada’s Eastern Arctic (map). The world’s largest steelmaker will control 70% of the shares, while Nunavut will control the other 30%, all in all a $590 million valuation. Previously, Arcelor had offered $1.40 a share and Nunavut $1.45, until the two companies agreed to jointly offer $1.50 a share. While Arcelor appears the winner, it is still a major coup for Bruce Walter, the Canadian behind the scenes of many mining deals. He formed Nunavut Iron Ore only last August for the sole purpose of bidding on the Mary Island deposits. Arcelor was set to take over Baffinland last August until Walter attempted a hostile takeover, sending stock prices soaring. The deposits can produce up to produce 18 million tons per year, with an estimated lifetime of 21 years. If the price of iron keeps rising as it has done in the past 10 years, the investment could pay off. But still, it is expected to cost CAN $4 billion to develop the site, which Baffinland had tried in vain to do for years. The project area is expected to consist of an open-pit iron mine and a crushing and screening pit.
Posted 16 January 2011; 1:55:52 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 January 2011) -- The Nunatsiavut government is asking for rule changes that would allow its members to hunt more caribou. Right now Nunatsiavut beneficiaries can kill as many caribou as they want on Inuit lands in northern Labrador, but outside that area, they're subject to the same rules as every other resident of the province. Newfoundland and Labrador limits hunters to just one animal per year. Some Inuit leaders want that to change. "It is very important that special consideration be given to beneficiaries," said Nunatsiavut First Minister Darryl Shiwak. He won't say exactly how many more animals they want but he did say that people in Nunatsiavut want Caribou to thrive in Labrador. "The conservation of this herd is very important but what we heard loud and clear is that people want to be able to harvest some caribou," said Shiwak. He also raised the idea of letting hunters transfer licences so one hunter can kill animals for several people. That's something the provincial government just abolished. The province hasn't responded to Nunatsiavut's request.
Posted 16 January 2011; 12:09:00 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 6 January 2011) -- The company Store Norske Gull has found gold on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Store Norske Gull started drilling this summer in the St. Johnsfjord on the western coast of the island Spitsbergen, after successful geological surveys in 2009. Analysis made in Canada and Sweden show that there is gold in the area, but it is too early to say if the deposits are big enough to be profitable, NRK reports. According to Morten Often in Store Norske Gull, the explorations will continue next summer. Store Norske Gull is a daughter company of the Store Norske Group, which operates Norwegian coal production on Svalbard.
Posted 10 January 2011; 10:38:25 PM. Permalink
(AP via Anchorage Daily News, 8 January 2011) -- UNALASKA - Alaska seafood organizations are suing to stop a ruling by the National Marine Fisheries Service that would protect fish on which the endangered Steller sea lions feed. Alaska Public Radio Network reported the ruling by the fisheries service has closed an area to fishing Atka mackerel and Pacific cod. The Alaska Seafood Cooperative fishes in the closed area, and takes about 90 percent of its Atka mackerel quota. Linda Larson, an attorney for the cooperative, said the ruling is misguided and unfairly blames overfishing for the decline of the Steller sea lion population when other factors might be to blame. Larson said the cooperative doesn't view the situation as a "conservation emergency." The fisheries service said it had to close the area to be in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
Posted 10 January 2011; 10:22:24 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 16 December 2010) -- Icelandic cod fisheries received a Global Trust Certification, an international certification based on strict conditions which confirms responsible fishery control and sustainable use of the ocean’s resources, yesterday. Managing director of Global Trust Certification Peter Marshall presented the certification to the representatives of the Icelandic fishing industry at a special ceremony in the Reykjavík Maritime Museum, a press release from the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners states. “This certification from a third party which meets the demands and ethics regulations of the FAO in fisheries shows that cod fishing in Iceland is well and responsibly managed. I’d like to congratulate the Icelandic fishing industry,” Marshall said, adding that Iceland could become a role model for other nations. Minister of Fisheries Jón Bjarnason said in his speech at the ceremony that the certification is important to the Icelandic fishing industry as it has now been confirmed that it meets the market’s demands on sustainability and renewability of natural resources.
Posted 18 December 2010; 8:23:13 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 December 2010) -- A Northwest Territories aboriginal group is taking the federal government to court for quietly opening a vast area of once-protected northern wilderness to mining claims. The Dehcho First Nations has asked the Federal Court to overturn Ottawa's order removing an existing ban on subsurface mining in the Horn Plateau, a 25,000-square-kilometre area in the south-central part of the territory. In its application for a judicial review dated Nov. 29, the Dehcho said the federal government's decision to remove the subsurface mining ban breaches an agreement made through the N.W.T. Protected Areas Strategy. The news comes as Ottawa announced proposed boundaries this week for a national marine park in Lancaster Sound, located at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The Horn Plateau region is the source of the Horn, Willowlake and Rabbitskin rivers, serves as a nesting area for migratory birds, and is a habitat for caribou, wood bison and wolverine species. The Dehcho Dene consider the area — which they call Edehzhie in the Slavey language — to be a sacred place and an important hunting ground. It is also known to have potentially significant oil and gas deposits. The Horn Plateau area has been under interim protection since 2002. Shortly before that protection was set to expire in October, the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department issued an order-in-council extending that protection until 2012.
Posted 17 December 2010; 11:38:21 AM. Permalink
(The Local, 7 December 2010) -- Reindeer are being tormented when slaughtered, according to the animal rights organisation World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). WSPA released a video on Monday that shows reindeer in distress when herded and transported, and while at the slaughterhouse. "The film that we are showing is particularly shocking now that Christmas is upon us, but it clearly shows the cruel reality that reindeer are exposed to," Roger Pettersson, secretary general of WSPA Sweden, said in a statement on Monday. The footage also shows a reindeer being killed by a knife stab to the neck, as well as animals being earmarked by knife without anesthesia. "This must be stopped immediately," Pettersson told news agency TT on Monday. WSPA tasked a journalist with investigating the conditions for reindeer on their way to slaughter. "He followed the reindeer herding and observed the gathering, selection, transport and slaughter, and evidence shows a high stress level for the animals. The reindeer are stressed during transport and their antlers become entangled. Even during branding, the animals are treated poorly," said Pettersson. He said it is a challenge to handle reindeer, which are semi-domesticated animals and not accustomed to people. "Densely packed into transport vehicles, reindeer antlers become weapons. They get caught in the sides of transport vehicles and they can even hurt each other before they reach the slaughterhouse," Pettersson said in a statement. As such, Pettersson advocated the use of smaller mobile slaughterhouses such that the slaughterhouse move, not the reindeer. According to the WSPA, the problem of distressed reindeer is similar in all Nordic countries. It said it will call on the the Nordic Council of Ministers to urge it to act. The council adopted a declaration in 2008 that animals should be treated as sentient beings, have intrinsic value, and should be respected accordingly.
Posted 7 December 2010; 4:30:18 PM. Permalink
(John Donovan/RoyalDutchShellPLC.com [unaffiliated blog], 27 November 2010) -- From a former employee of Shell Oil USA: Latest industry estimates are that the new drilling technologies have given and will give the US about 100 years worth of gas reserves from unconventional ‘tight’ shales, sands, carbonates and hydrocarbon ‘source’ rocks. That is about 2500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Actual proven reserves are now about 1/4 to 1/3 that amount. What I find interesting about the gas reserve estimates for both the Chukchi and Beaufort offshore areas is that it does not exceed 25 trillion cubic feet, or about one years worth of domestic US consumption. The question now is : Why do we want to drill for this gas in such a hostile environment now, when we really don’t have any need for the gas? The logic escapes me. Oil reserve estimates for both areas are on the order of 20 billion bbls. While that is a significant amount of oil, not producing it will do nothing to effect the global price of oil, now or in the near future. And it is only about 8 months worth of current global consumption. Alaska’s state budget will be drastically effected because of lost royalty revenues if those reserves are not produced. But so what? There are other areas in the state to drill for oil and gas that are not nearly as environmentally sensitive, or where ‘accidents’ won’t have such a severe environmental impact, such as the National Petroleum Reserve. All things considered, including the off shore operating track record of the major oil companies in far less hostile environments, I think it is best to just sit back and wait awhile before trying to develop oil and gas reserves in the Alaskan Arctic. We can afford to do so. And I see no compelling ‘national security’ need to proceed ahead. Any so-called ‘national security imperative’ that would supposedly require drilling in the off shore Alaskan Arctic is a canard.
Posted 28 November 2010; 10:53:51 PM. Permalink
(Mike De Souza/Postmedia News via Canada.com, 15 November 2010) -- OTTAWA — A proposed $16 billion pipeline project in northern Canada could still be years away from beginning construction, despite getting a green light from the federal and Northwest Territories governments Monday, says a spokesman from the leading stakeholder, Imperial Oil. "The project would literally need thousands of individual permits for specific pieces of work," said Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser. "As we said in our (public submissions), the stars would really need to align in order for construction of the project to commence in 2014." The two governments delivered a 127-page report on Monday that is rejecting many of the recommendations proposed by an environmental review panel, and referring others to the National Energy Board which is expected to release its own conditions for the project in the coming weeks. Rolheiser said the project proponents are also hoping to continue negotiations on financial aspects of the program such as taxes and royalties. Environment Minister John Baird acknowledged that talks had taken place, without making any commitments. "I think at the end of the day this is going to have to be a commercial decision," Baird told reporters. "The price of natural gas is very different than just a few short years ago or certainly very different from when this project was initiated." But he added that there could be tremendous economic benefits for Canada and its northern region in particular.
Posted 20 November 2010; 4:00:56 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 12 November 2010) -- The LKAB company in northern Sweden has found iron ore worth more than one billion Swedish kroner in its 50-year old waste deposit. "It is absolutely fantastic that we have found ore in our old rock deposits," LKAB representative Anna Tyni told Swedish Radio. The ore was discovered in more than 50-years old rock piles, newspaper Dagens Industri reports. The LKAB company is with its iron mines in and around Kiruna a cornerstone company in northern Sweden.
Posted 13 November 2010; 7:58:10 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 8 November 2010) -- The Russian company Trust Arktikugol has restarted coal mining at the archipelago of Svalbard after a two-and-a-half-year break. The production halt came after a fire in the local mine in 2008. Sea water was pumped into the mine to extinguish the fire, which subsequently destroyed equipment and required a major overhaul of production. Production restart was further complicated by low coal prices, NRK reports. In 2009, Svalbard had a population of 2,753, of which 423 were Russian and Ukrainian, Wikipedia informs. In Barentsburg, mining is the only livelihood, while the neighboring Norwegian settlement of Longyearbyen in addition to mining also has a well-developed tourist industry and a significant presence of polar researchers.
Posted 8 November 2010; 11:09:53 AM. Permalink
(Yereth Rosen/Reuters via FoxBusiness, 1 October 2010) -- ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A planned study of possible new wilderness protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has sparked a furor in Alaska, where energy companies have long dreamed of tapping oil reserves beneath its vast coastal plain home to herds of migrating animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service effort announced this week is part of a sweeping review of a land-management plan for what is the second-largest national wildlife refuge in the United States. The agency stresses that its work is just starting and that a formal draft is not expected until next year. But the oil industry and its political allies regard it as a prelude to an attempt to keep the refuge off-limits to energy production for good by formally declaring its remote coastal tundra as wilderness. "Alaska will not allow the federal government to lock up more land without a fight," Governor Sean Parnell said this week. The Alaska Wilderness League, for its part, accuses oil companies of trying to destroy a refuge that represents the only place on Alaska's North Slope that is legislatively closed to development. "The Arctic Refuge is one of the last true wilderness areas left in the United States — some places are just too special to sacrifice to oil and gas development," said Cindy Shogan, the league's executive director. Established 50 years ago in the northeast corner of Alaska, ANWR occupies 19.3 million acres, stretching from saltwater marshes of the Beaufort Sea on its northern edge to the spruce, birch and aspen forests in the Brooks Range's southern foothills. Its wilderness plan was last revised in 1988, eight years after Congress expanded the refuge to its current size and effectively closed all of it to energy development.
Posted 3 October 2010; 8:44:50 PM. Permalink
(Dimitra Lavrakas/Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 9 September 2010) -- Marine mammals have provided Alaska Natives with a healthy diet and warm clothes for thousands of years. Coastal villagers often say, "This is our garden." Of course it is. With North Slope villages listed with a growing season of one day in most gardening books food must come from somewhere. And for anyone who has bitten into a slice of mutuk at minus 20, that fat is the ultimate energy bar — you can feel the heat creep through your veins before it even reaches your stomach. It is a direct example of how people managed to survive the Arctic so well for so long. But in the 21st century, hunting for marine mammals comes with much misunderstanding and many cultural taboos. While "Save the Whales" has been the rallying cry for conservationists, "Yeah, save the whales for dinner" just might be the quip you overhear at a whaling camp on the shore ice off Barrow during spring whaling season. ... All of the marine creatures that feed northernmost communities now face a new future — an ice-free shipping lane, seismic tests and exploration in search of new sources of oil and gas. Plus there are international disputes over who owns what in the Arctic. The U.S. Coast Guard is considering establishing a base in Barrow to protect the country's interest in the Arctic. Canada is asserting that it owns a large part of the Arctic. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, founded in 1977 with the help of North Slope Mayor Eben Hopson, united Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and eventually Russia in discussions on issues of common concern. ... On Sept. 2, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and his deputy secretary David J. Hayes held a town hall meeting in Barrow to discuss issues of importance to the North Slope. "It's a challenge," says Itta. "We live in modern times and we depend on a cash economy just like other people. We also have this deep connection to a traditional subsistence lifestyle, so we have to protect the web of life in the ocean. I think our best bet is to recognize that offshore development is probably going to happen, and to insist that we have a say in how it happens. We are the people who will have to live with the impacts, and we have very recently seen what can happen when things go wrong offshore. So I feel justified in demanding world-class protections and mitigations. "If the government and the companies are really committed to doing it right, then they should be willing to spend a little bit of money to calm our fears by going the extra mile toward protecting the ocean and our culture." The ringed and bearded seals, the beluga, bowhead and the gray whales that visit occasionally, the walrus and all the other creatures that are a vital part of Inupiat lives go about their business unaware of the very important decisions being made for them on land.
Posted 12 September 2010; 9:24:42 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 19 August 2010) -- Shawn Ryan of Dawson, Yukon, and his family are just back from a European vacation. It was their first vacation, and it's hard to imagine one more deserved. After years of prospecting in the Yukon, living in a tin shack, searching for the long-rumored gold veins that fed nuggets into fabled Klondike streams, the Ryans are millionaires and could rake in millions more from the modern-day gold rush that Shawn started, reports Canada's Globe and Mail. Whether Ryan actually has discovered the source of Klondike gold has yet to be determined, but his finds have been significant enough to set off one of the biggest claim-staking frenzies since prospectors poured into the Yukon and Alaska in the 1890s. His newfound wealth comes mostly from deals signed with other prospectors giving them access to his claims.
Posted 22 August 2010; 12:05:10 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 August 2010) -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper is slamming the European Union's decision to proceed with a ban on seal products despite a court ruling ordering that the policy be suspended while legal challenges to it are heard. Speaking in Charlottetown on Friday, the prime minister urged the EU to respect its own court's injunction, saying the ban is "completely unfair and a discriminatory treatment" of a Canadian industry that employs people of modest means. Seal industry workers, Harper said, are being "targeted by environmental extremists based on complete misinformation." The Canadian government will continue to defend the sealers' interests because they respect the "same kind of humanitarian considerations" that are present in other areas of animal husbandry, Harper said. "They should not be targetted like this, and the government of Canada will continue to speak out in their defence," said the prime minister. According to media reports, the EU ban went into effect on Friday, but seal products sold by groups that have already filed court actions appealing the ban are exempt from it. Those groups include the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents Canada's 53,000 Inuit, and Greenland's Inuit.
Posted 21 August 2010; 8:37:44 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 August 2010) -- A European Union ban on seal products was temporarily suspended Thursday, the day before it was set to take effect, because of a legal challenge by Inuit leaders. The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, representing Canada's 53,000 Inuit, and other Inuit organizations in Greenland and Norway filed a legal challenge against the EU's ban earlier this year, calling it illegal and immoral. The Canadian Seal Marketing Group and the Fur Institute of Canada are also involved in the challenge. The EU's General Court, based in Luxembourg, agreed to impose a delay on the ban in order to properly consider the legal challenge, saying the delay was in the "interest of the proper administration of justice." "I'm pleased to report that we have just learned this morning that the petition launched by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami for an injunction has been granted," Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced in St. John's. "This means that the ban does not come into force tomorrow." Inuit leaders were pleased with the news. "The … [court] has decided there's more time required to properly review our request," said Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told CBC News. "To us, that is a very important decision because it is rare that the European Union court would suspend an EU legislation." "To us, it makes it clear that the EU court is taking our legal case seriously." Simon expects the court case will be heard in the fall or early winter.
Posted 20 August 2010; 12:03:58 PM. Permalink
(Shannon Montgomery/Canadian Press via Metro News Halifax, 20 May 2010) -- CALGARY - Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he will demand the highest environmental standards be followed as Greenland explores offshore oil drilling just outside of Canada's territorial waters. Prentice said he'll make Canada's position very clear at a meeting of Arctic countries next month. "We certainly want to be sure that the highest possible environmental standards are being followed and we intend to make our views known," he said at an event in Calgary. "Obviously drilling offshore wells in the Arctic environment, particularly deep wells, is something that we are concerned about. Greenland recently accepted bids to drill in Baffin Bay near the mouth of Lancaster Sound, which is close to where Canada hopes to establish a marine conservation area. The territory hopes to drill along thousands of kilometres of the maritime border it shares with Canada starting this summer.
Posted 23 May 2010; 9:53:27 AM. Permalink
(ENS, 18 May 2010) -- TORONTO, Ontario - In a deal that marks the coming together of two traditional adversaries, environmental groups and the member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada today agreed to manage a broad swath of northern boreal forest to the highest environmental standards. Under the agreement, the 21 FPAC member companies, who manage two-thirds of all certified forest land in Canada, commit to the highest environmental standards of forest management within 72 million hectares (277,993 square miles) of public forests licensed to FPAC members from British Columbia in the west to Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada. Nine conservation groups commit to global recognition and support for FPAC member efforts. "Do Not Buy" campaigns by the groups Canopy, ForestEthics and Greenpeace will be suspended while the agreement is being implemented. New logging will be suspended on nearly 29 million hectares (111,969 square miles) of boreal forest to develop conservation plans for threatened woodland caribou, while maintaining essential fiber supplies for uninterrupted mill operations. "This is our best chance to save woodland caribou, permanently protect vast areas of the Boreal Forest and put in place sustainable forestry practices," said Richard Brooks, spokesperson for participating environmental organizations and Forest Campaign coordinator of Greenpeace Canada. "Concerns from the public and the marketplace about wilderness conservation and species loss have been critical drivers in arriving at this agreement," Brooks said. "We have a lot of work to do together to make this agreement successful and we are committed to make it happen." "The importance of this agreement cannot be overstated," said FPAC President and CEO Avrim Lazar. "Together we have identified a more intelligent, productive way to manage economic and environmental challenges in the boreal that will reassure global buyers of our products' sustainability."
Posted 20 May 2010; 2:32:55 PM. Permalink
(Alexandre Deslongchamps/Blomberg Businessweek, 12 May 2010) -- Canadian national and provincial energy regulators will review the safety requirements for offshore drilling projects in a bid to prevent an oil spill similar to the one in the Gulf of Mexico. The Calgary-based National Energy Board will review procedures for Arctic drilling, while Canada’s easternmost province of Newfoundland said today it appointed Mark Turner, former chief operating officer of North Atlantic Pipeline Partners and Newfoundland LNG Ltd., to probe its ability to prevent and respond to a spill. While Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada’s rules are safe, the opposition Liberal Party said yesterday it wants to conduct a review of offshore drilling and that a moratorium could be necessary if current rules aren’t stringent enough. “We need to learn from what happened in the Gulf,” Gaetan Caron, the regulator’s chair, said in a statement released yesterday. “The information taken from this unfortunate situation will enhance our safety and environmental oversight.” The National Energy Board will announce the details of the review in the “near future,” according to the statement. It takes the place of a separate review the Board had begun into the need for Arctic operators to be able to drill relief wells during the same season. The watchdog said there is currently no offshore drilling in the Arctic and it hasn’t received any applications for such a project.
Posted 13 May 2010; 4:47:27 PM. Permalink
(Darrell Delamaide for OilPrice.com via OilGuy/OpEdNews.com, 9 May 2010) -- While the oil spill from a sunken drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to become an environmental disaster, plans are proceeding for opening up new drilling territories in the iceberg-infested waters off Greenland. The island, an autonomous territory under Danish sovereignty, this week conducted an auction for 14 blocks in Baffin Bay, off the northwest coast of Greenland near Canadian territorial waters. Results will be announced in August. In the meantime, Cairn Energy will this summer begin drilling off DiskoIsland in Baffin Bay on the basis of leases awarded in earlier auctions. Exxon Mobil and Chevron also hold existing leases, while Royal Dutch Shell and Norway's Statoil were among the bidders in this week's auctions. The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that some 50 billion barrels of oil may be found offshore Greenland, where ice covers four-fifths of the surface territory for a good part of the year. Some in Greenland, which has a population of only 57,000, hope that oil will be the ticket to independence from Denmark, which has controlled the island since the 18th century. The portion of the Labrador Current flowing through Davis Strait off western Greenland is known as "iceberg alley" because huge chunks of ice that calve from the northern glaciers make their way into the northern Atlantic along this route. Ironically, global warming, which has melted some of the Arctic glaciers, has made offshore drilling in these waters more feasible. However, the Gulf oil spill is raising concerns in Canada about the risks posed in drilling so near the Canadian coastline. Cairn Energy's only offshore drilling experience has been in the much warmer Indian Ocean, and no one has had to cope with an oil spill in Arctic waters. Officials from eight Arctic countries, including Canada, are to meet in Greenland next month to discuss possible environmental risks of oil exploration and production in the region. Last fall, seven companies with drilling licenses, including Cairn, formed the Greenland Oil Industry Association to exchange expertise and liaise with the government on environmental and other issues. Analysts estimate that an oil price of at least $50 a barrel is necessary to make Arctic offshore drilling worthwhile. Prices have hovered around $80 a barrel in recent months.
Posted 9 May 2010; 10:44:28 AM. Permalink
(China Daily, 6 April 2010) -- Beijing - The Arctic will be the focus of stepped-up research and expedition efforts to deal with challenges and opportunities arising from melting ice cover, the country's top administrator on polar research has said. Climate and environmental changes in the Arctic have a direct impact on China, Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA) affiliated to the State Oceanic Administration, told China Daily. "We need to increase scientific research and expeditions to better comprehend the Arctic Ocean and global climate change," Qu said, adding that China lags behind some countries in this regard. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report in February saying that the Arctic could become consistently ice-free during summers from 2013 to 2060, posing economic, military and environmental challenges as well as offering opportunities. China, like other countries under the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has the right to participate in the exploration of the Arctic, Qu noted. "Scientific expeditions are the first step. We will take part in more activities through cooperation or independent exploration," Qu said. It is estimated that the Arctic has 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil, which are "global resources, not regional", Qu pointed out. The UN convention defines territorial waters as those extending 12 nautical miles beyond a country's coast. Waters extending 200 nautical miles are a country's exclusive fishing and mining zones. It also stipulates that the high seas and the resources in the seabed there are the common heritage of mankind. "We will strengthen collaboration and exchanges with Arctic and Antarctic countries in polar research," he said.
Posted 5 May 2010; 11:50:35 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 12 April 2010) -- In an effort led by the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, three Inuit associations in Nunavut have bought into a new corporation that’s aimed at creating more Inuit involvement and decision-making power in Nunavut resource development projects. The new company, called the Nunavut Resources Corp., will buy into mining projects on Inuit-owned and Crown land, an April 9 press release said. “The formation of NRC means Inuit can move from being watchers to being participants and decision-makers in the development of the North,” the company’s press release said. Charlie Evalik, who now serves as president of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, will chair the new corporation, while Inuit organizations like the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, the Kivalliq Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. will own it. In the press release, Evalik is quoted as saying Inuit get jobs, contracting opportunities and royalties from current benefit arrangements but still depend on others to make key development decisions. “That means the real gains, including capital gains, from development in Nunavut go to others. It is time for Inuit to enhance their participation in development on their lands and in Nunavut,” Evalik is quoted as saying. The press release said the company’s board, drawn from “business leaders with expertise in corporate finance and mineral development,” will be appointed over the next few months.
Posted 12 April 2010; 9:52:33 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 7 April 2010) -- Regional authorities in Murmansk want to limit the free movement of reindeer herds to 100-200 km wide zones. In an interview with newspaper Vedomosti, regional Governor Dmitry Dmitriyenko said that his administration plans to establish 100-200 km wide zones for the regional reindeer herds. This will help raise productivity, the governor argues. Today, reindeer herds migrate over major parts of the peninsula. Governor Dmitriyenko says the changing climate makes it increasingly difficult to gather the herds at slaughter time because the rivers now freeze later than before. It is the indigenous Sami population which has the reindeer herding as its main industry. The main Sami settlements are located in the central parts of the peninsula with the town of Lovozero as the main centre.
Posted 12 April 2010; 12:25:10 AM. Permalink
(Nathan VanderKlippe/Globe and Mail, 9 April 2010) -- Diavik Diamond Mine, NWT - Ninety metres below a gaping hole in the subarctic Barren Lands, a huge square tunnel ends at a wall of dark rock. Overhead, water drips from Lac de Gras, the epicentre of Canada's diamond boom. The dripping is a reminder that the lake's shores were moved to make way for an open-pit mine. Now that that pit has reached its bottom, miners are down here digging a network of tunnels to extract what remains of the carrot-shaped deposit of kimberlite that they have been pulling from the ground for nearly a decade. In the light of their lamps, the rock looks black as coal. Hidden inside are the diamonds that have shaped the fate of the Northwest Territories for the past 20 years. Between Diavik and other diamond mines, the wealth at Lac de Gras, about 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife, accounts for nearly a quarter of the territorial economy. Diamonds have pumped billions into local businesses and bank accounts, and have been a catalyst for remarkable social change, including dramatic increases in graduation rates in some aboriginal communities as economic success is passed from generation to generation. But the fact that miners are working 90 metres underground, and not still scraping away the surface, points to the end of the boom. A place already rocked by the global downturn now faces the reality that its payday resource is running out. One former government official warns that a looming lack of jobs may create a “lost generation”; another refers to the coming years as Exodus 4, the latest painful chapter for a territory that has witnessed severe busts before.
Posted 11 April 2010; 10:59:46 PM. Permalink
(CBC Radio: The Best of The Current, 9 March 2010) -- China has no territory in the Arctic. But thanks to global warming and the possibility of new shipping lanes, its Arctic ambitions are on the rise. We started this segment with some sound of an icebreaker cutting its way through the Arctic ice. It turns out the largest non-nuclear ice-breaker in the world is owned by China ... a country with no Arctic territory and no obvious connection to the region. On top of that, China is now building another ice-breaker, one that would be smaller but capable of handling the kind of high-tech Arctic research in which the country is becoming increasingly engaged. The full extent of China's Arctic ambitions was outlined in a report released last week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Initiative. It's called China and The High North Prepare for an Ice-Free Arctic. Linda Jakobson is the author of the report. She's the Acting Programme Director and the Senior Researcher for the Institute's Programme on China and Global Security. And she was in Shanghai. According to Gordon Chang, China is likely to press its interests in the Arctic as far as it is able to ... something he says Canada should keep in mind in the coming years. Gordon Chang is a writer with a weekly geo-political column for Forbes.com. He has lived and worked in China and Hong Kong. He's also the author of The Coming Collapse of China. And he was in New York City this morning. For his thoughts on whether Canada is equipped to impose its own presence in this equation or defend its Arctic interests, we were joined by Michael Byers. He is the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. He's also the author of Who Owns The Arctic? And he was in Vancouver.
(True North Gems Apartheid press release via PRWeb, 5 March 2010) -- Nuuk, Greenland - Niels Madsen, a small scale mining activist and one of the founders of
the 16th August Union, a Greenlandic association of small scale miners,
has issued a call to the international community to block the Greenland
Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum’s (BMP) continuing attempt to
disenfranchise Greenlanders from their mineral resources. The BMP has recently revoked communal ownership of the land and its
resources, which were formerly guaranteed under Article 32 of the
Greenlandic Constitution. On March 8th, Greenland’s Manager of the BMP,
Jorn Skov Nielsen will present in Toronto to the Prospectors and
Developers Association of Canada http://www.pdac.ca/ with the clear aim of offering
Greenland’s vast mineral wealth to large-scale mining companies. “Any company that collaborates with the BMP is not only in violation of the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights,” said Madsen, “they are also supporting what has clearly become an apartheid system.” True North Gems, Inc., (TNG), a junior Canadian mining company prospecting for ruby on Greenland since 2004 was recently granted rights to an enormous exploration license near the village of Fiskenaesset. On Tuesday 9 March 2010, TNG is scheduled to give a 20 minute presentation to the Canadian diamond community. Until the documentation of valuable gem deposits in Greenland, Inuits were allowed to gather, polish and sell gem material. Once exceptionally valuable ruby was documented by TNG, the BMP issued completely new mining laws. “Once an applications is filed to mine, the BMP delays or outright refuses to issue licenses,” said Madsen. “We also want to benefit from the ruby we already collected and legally own and pay fair taxes, but at present that is not possible.” “Even though True North Gems is very unpopular in our country, we respect large scale mining. But we cannot tolerate being thrown out of the many big exploration areas which will soon be covering the entire land which is our commons,” said Madsen, who gathered four thousand signatures in support of Inuit small scale mining rights for ruby on Greenland. ... “The BMP is guilty of marginalizing the Inuit from their own wealth and inheritance,” said Valerio. “Not only do their new small-scale mining laws discredit the BMP in the eyes of the international gemstone community, they also humiliate and discriminate against very people they claim to represent.” [See the protest web site.]
Posted 8 March 2010; 1:55:00 PM. Permalink
(Robert H. Wade/Financial Times Comment, 4 March 2010) -- Sir, Your article “Exploring the openings created by Arctic melting” (March 2) highlights China’s growing interest in emerging sea routes across the Arctic. One reason is that the distance from Chinese ports to European and east coast North American ports is much shorter across the Arctic than through Suez or around the Horn. Chinese planners anticipate building giant ice-strengthened container ships able to use the shorter route as the ice melts. But the cargoes would have to be shifted to smaller ships to enter their destination ports. Where would the transshipment port be located? One obvious place is Iceland, which sits at the entrance to – or exit from – the Arctic ocean. It has several fjords suitable for such a port. This may help explain China’s more-than-usual friendship with tiny Iceland. The Chinese embassy is the biggest in Reykjavik by far. When the president of Iceland paid a state visit to China in 2007 he was received with all the pomp and ceremony of the head of a major state. And when Iceland was campaigning for a seat on the security council in 2008, China backed it publicly and helped to raise support from mini states in the Pacific and Caribbean. ...
Posted 8 March 2010; 1:48:38 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 4 March 2010) -- A controversial proposal to open a coal mine on Ellesmere Island — potentially one of the planet's most northerly industrial operations — has hit a major roadblock after a Nunavut review agency ruled that "the high likelihood of immitigable impacts" to wildlife and globally-significant fossil beds in the region demand that the project be "modified or abandoned" by its B.C.-based developer. The thumbs-down recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board, filed Feb. 22 with the federal government, was hailed as a victory of fossil science over fossil fuel by the U.S.-based Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which had described the proposed Weststar Resources Corp., coal project as a threat to "some of the most significant sites in the world" for fossil researchers. The board's decision leaves the project's fate in the hands of the federal government and could force the company to radically redesign its development plans. "The news couldn't be better," society president Blaire Van Valkenburgh said in a statement sent Thursday to Canwest News Service. "This is the strongest possible outcome in our favour." In its report, submitted to Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, the review board cited "unacceptable potential adverse impacts" — including possible disruption of Inuit hunting activities — in rejecting the proposed mine. Despite a submission from Environment Canada, backing Weststar's plan — described by the federal ministry as "a type where the potential adverse effects are highly predictable and can be mitigated with known technology" — the NIRB concluded there was too great a risk of harm to Peary caribou, other "sensitive wildlife" and "significant paleontological resources."
Posted 7 March 2010; 11:21:54 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 February 2010) -- A Russian government service is to evaluate a report on the exploration of the shelf west of the Yamal Peninsula. The Russian Service on Ecological, Technological and Nuclear control is to conduct a state evaluation of materials on the mapping of the waters west of the Yamal Peninsula, the government body informs on its website. The waters outside Yamal are along with the Kara Sea believed to contain major amounts of hydrocarbons, and first of all natural gas. Gazprom is currently in the process of developing land-based fields in the Yamal Peninsula. Those fields, among them the huge Bovanenkovo field, could pave the way also for offshore developments. It is Gazprom which has the licenses to the fields in the area. The Ministry of Natural Resources will, in the course of February, publish a report on the development of the Russian shelf, RIA Novosti reports.
Posted 21 February 2010; 1:03:11 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 February 2010) -- A Quebec senator is calling on Nunavut to sign on to a proposed international declaration on ethical seal hunting, which she says could help Canada challenge the European Union's trade ban on seal products. Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette is visiting Iqaluit this week to promote the Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals, which she released last year. Hervieux-Payette, who plans to go on an Inuit seal hunt on Thursday, said Tuesday the declaration could help Canada make a case to the World Trade Organization to force the EU to overturn its seal product ban. "It was just a pure political decision which has no legal ground," she said of the ban. The seal-product ban was adopted by 27 European countries last year, in part because of anti-sealing campaigns that accused Canada of conducting an inhumane seal harvest. The ban has a limited exemption for seal products derived from traditional Inuit hunts, but Inuit sealers and leaders have said such exemptions are not clear and the overall ban has still affected the Inuit seal hunt. The Canadian government has already filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, arguing that the ban violates the EU's trade obligations. As well, Inuit organizations in Canada and Greenland are suing the European Union over the trade ban. The Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals aims to promote a balance between ensuring animal welfare, maintaining the well-being of people in sealing communities, and protecting the environment. The document states that its signatories — which currently include the governments of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador — care about the welfare of animal populations and believe in ensuring they are hunted properly. The declaration calls for the seal population to be monitored and documented, and harvest quotas to be defined. As well, it says seals must be killed in a quick and professional manner, using humane methods.
Posted 11 February 2010; 11:12:52 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 January 2010) -- Scientists want to bring together people from Canada and other circumpolar nations in Iqaluit next year to talk about the health of the Arctic marine environment and the North's fisheries. The annual Ocean Innovation Conference, to be held in the Nunavut capital in October 2011, is being organized amid concerns about the effects of climate change in the North. Conference organizers from the Fisheries and Marine Institute at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., are in Nunavut this week to meet with government officials and Inuit hunters. Randy Gillespie, the institute's director of applied research, said organizers will work closely with partners in Nunavut to hold a conference that will include representatives from Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States. "We want to explore the relationships between science and technology and traditional knowledge, recognizing that all three have something to contribute to a sustainable understanding of the marine environment," Gillespie told CBC News. Conference delegates will discuss everything from pollution to ship traffic, Gillespie said. Arctic fisheries will also be discussed, as Nunavut works to expand both its offshore and inshore fishing industries.
Posted 28 January 2010; 8:23:21 AM. Permalink
(ENS, 18 January 2010) -- WASHINGTON, DC - There has been a commercial "fishery failure" for Alaska's Yukon River Chinook salmon due to low salmon returns, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has formally determined. "Communities in Alaska along the Yukon River depend heavily on Chinook salmon for commercial fishing, jobs and food," said Locke on Friday. "I have determined that a fishery disaster has occurred due to consecutive years of low Chinook salmon returns. Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling with a substantial loss in income and revenues." The Yukon River once hosted the largest migrating Chinook, chum, and coho Pacific salmon stocks in the world. But in 2008, because of low Chinook salmon returns, the state of Alaska reduced the 2008 commercial Chinook salmon harvest to 89 percent below the recent five-year average. No commercial Chinook salmon fishery was allowed in 2009 on the Yukon River. The state also restricted subsistence harvests. Over 800 Alaskan fishery permit holders are directly affected by the salmon failure, along with crewmen, processing employees, and those who provide support services. Although the reasons for the decline of Chinook salmon are not completely understood, scientists believe changes in ocean and river conditions, including unfavorable shifts in temperatures and food sources, likely caused poor survival of Chinook salmon. ... "While subsistence fishing is not a factor in determining a commercial fishery failure, for Yukon River communities the commercial and subsistence fisheries are inseparable," said Doug Mecum, acting administrator of the NOAA's Fisheries Service' Alaska region. "These communities are very isolated and do not have the economic diversity to withstand the disastrous economic impact of extremely low or no commercial harvest coupled with a decline in subsistence harvests," Mecum said.
Posted 23 January 2010; 4:45:37 PM. Permalink
(Society of Vertebrate Paleontology press release, 14 January 2010) -- DEERFIELD, IL - A proposed coal mining project by Westar Resources, Inc. on Ellesmere Island (Nunavut) in Canada's eastern High Arctic is currently under review by the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), an environmental assessment agency established under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement whose objectives are to protect and promote the well-being of the residents, communities and ecosystems of Nunavut. The proposed development area includes fossil sites of a broad range of ages that include some of the most significant sites in the world, and the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is deeply concerned over the possible loss of these valuable resources. These unique, world-renowned sites near Strathcona Fiord include fossil plants and animals that lived during one of the warmest times in all of Earth history, when Ellesmere Island was blanketed in forests inhabited by alligators, turtles, primates and hippo-like animals. Despite over three decades of searching the High Arctic, no sites of comparable age and fossil richness have been discovered elsewhere in the Canadian Arctic. ... Whilst not disputing either the need for finding new sources of energy, or the economic benefits that may accrue from the development of the coal mining, it is the hope and belief of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, as representative of vertebrate paleontologists worldwide, that it will be possible to preserve the invaluable fossil resources in the area alongside other objectives.
Posted 15 January 2010; 11:43:17 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 6 January 2010) -- An upcoming research expedition to an Arctic island could help kickstart a new wave of oil and gas exploration in Canada's Far North. The research team, led by Keith Dewing of the Geological Survey of Canada, will travel to Ellef Ringnes Island next summer to collect data from areas where petroleum resources were first discovered nearly half a century ago. "There was exploration done up there by a group of companies called PanArctic Oils back in the 1960s, 1970s, and that exploration ended in the 1980s," Dewing, a research scientist based in Calgary, told CBC News. "It was very successful; they found all sorts of resources up there back in the old days. But of course, none of it was really economic. They couldn't make money producing what they found because of the location." Dewing said technologies have changed since then, and his team hopes to produce a detailed geological map that could give industry more information about Ellef Ringnes Island. "It's amazing what you can do now, compared to 20 years ago, so what we want to do is go in and bring the science up to date," he said. The expedition to Ellef Ringnes Island is part of a federal government program aimed at learning more about petroleum resources in Canada's Far North. "It's quite generously funded. There's quite a bit of money," Dewing said.
Posted 6 January 2010; 11:45:07 PM. Permalink
(Jewellery News, 21 December 2009) -- The Aikhal underground diamond mine, located in the Russian republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has been commissioned in the presence of Vyacheslav Shtyrov, president of Yakutia, Fyodor Andreyev, President of Russian diamond miner Alrosa, as well as employees of the diamond giant. The new mine forms part of the Aikhal Integrated Mining and Processing Complex (Aikhal GOK), which was established in 1986 originally with the purpose to operate the Sytykan open-pit mine and with a plan to increase the ore production in the future by commissioning the Jubilee open-pit mine. Until now, the Aikhal GOK has operated three open-pit mines: Sytykan, Aikhal and Jubilee, No. 8 Ore Treatment Plant, transportation department and auxiliary facilities to support the mining operations, as well as a number of social facilities. The new Aikhal underground mine has a life expectancy of 25 years, an is expected to produce 500,000 tons of diamond ore annually. The total investment since the beginning of development of the deposit by underground mining has been nearly 9 billion Russian rubles. The number of employees at the mine now stands at 380 people, which will increase to 600. The Aikhal diamond deposit was discovered on January 22, 1960. The Aikhal pipe is located in the northwestern part of Yakutia, about 450km to the north of the city of Mirny, within a permafrost zone. The deposit is located within the left-hand valley slope of the Sokhsolookh-Markhinsky Creek and is an explosion-type pipe extending in the northeastern direction.The Aikhal open-pit mine is located at a steep left-hand slope of the Sakhsolookh River and constitutes a typical mountain-slope pit. For more information on Alrosa visit: http://www.diamondne.ws/directory/alrosa-co-ltd/
Posted 21 December 2009; 2:04:17 AM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 12 November 2009) -- The district council of Djúpavogshreppur in southeast Iceland has founded a company in partnership with private parties to organize extensive water export with tankers from Berufjördur fjord. The plan is to pump water from the Nykurhylur pool in the river Fossá in Berufjördur and transport it with pipelines to 80,000-ton tankers, RÚV reports. Head of the district council Björn Hafthór Gudmundsson said the captain of a similar tanker was consulted before the project was taken to the next level and he said Berufjördur has prime conditions for water export. The water would be exported to Mediterranean countries, which lack water for agricultural and industrial purposes. “Reports show that it is a growing problem in the world; water is talked of as the ‘blue gold’ and everything indicates that many opportunities are involved in water export,” Gudmundsson said. The Icelandic state holds part of the rights to the water in the area and Gudmundsson said the government has finally shown positive reactions to the project, which would result in increased revenue in foreign currency. Innovation Center Iceland is currently working on a marketing plan for the project and a stock offering is also in development.
Posted 12 November 2009; 4:47:49 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 6 November 2009) -- What has been called Canada's largest construction project came under fire from aboriginal groups Friday, who called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to protect their treaty rights in the face of a Quebec government plan to develop the province's north. The skirmish threatens to end an era of amiable relations between the province and aboriginal groups in a return to old feuds that dominated hydroelectric power discussions in the past. Premier Jean Charest's Plan Nord, a showpiece project that was announced with great fanfare during last year's provincial election, is part of the government's goal for massive resource development in the north. The plan includes $19 billion in new energy projects, which would add 3,500 megawatts to Hydro-Québec's grid by 2035—enough to power roughly 600,000 homes. But some aboriginal groups contend it will bulldoze their traditional way of life and steamroller their treaty rights. Five Innu communities boycotted a closed-door meeting hosted by Quebec Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau in Quebec City on Friday to discuss the project. But about 200 people from northern Quebec did attend the gathering. Chief Ghislain Picard, head of the powerful Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, called on Harper to intervene. ... Environment groups have criticized the project, saying it would create significant problems in the forest land slated to be flooded. The Innu are threatening to use all legal means to throw a wrench into the plan if their ancestral rights are not respected, although no timetable was given Friday. Those rights include historical and modern treaties and the right to self-government.
Posted 8 November 2009; 1:08:34 AM. Permalink
(NOAA press release via Alaska Report, 4 November 2009) -- Regulations implementing the Fishery Management Plan for Fish Resources of the Arctic Management Area published in the Federal Register November 3 go into effect December 3, 2009. The regulations close the Arctic Management Area to commercial fishing. The Arctic Fishery Management Plan establishes a process for considering requests to develop future fisheries based upon the best available science. In 2006, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council began considering options for fishery management in the Arctic. The council talked extensively with communities on Alaska’s North Slope and other stakeholders. Ultimately, the Council decided to take a precautionary approach, voting to prohibit commercial fisheries until sufficient information on the Arctic marine environment is available to sustainably manage commercial fishing. The Arctic Fishery Management Plan governs commercial fishing for all stocks of finfish and shellfish in federal waters, except Pacific salmon and Pacific halibut, which are managed under other authorities. It does not affect fisheries for salmon, whitefish and shellfish in Alaskan waters near the Arctic shore. The plan identifies Arctic cod, saffron cod, and snow crab as likely initial target species for fishermen. The plan does not affect Arctic subsistence fishing or hunting.
Posted 6 November 2009; 12:01:30 PM. Permalink
(Mads Dollerup-Scheibel/Sermitsiaq, 29 October 2009) -- Starting next month, the first bottles of Greenland spring water will start rolling of the production line the west coast town of Qeqertarsuaq. Greenland Springwater is currently putting the final touches on its tapping equipment and expects that 150,000 bottles of water from Lyngmark Spring will be shipped to retailers in Greenland and abroad in the coming months. Many of the bottles turned out in the start-up production phase have been distributed to the town's school and senior citizens' home. Once production officially gets underway, some 60,000 bottles of the initial production run will be sold in Greenland. The remaining bottles will be shipped to Switzerland and France. Greenland Springwater will also be sold on the German market, but because of laws there banning the sale of water in plastic bottles the company will ship water to Aalborg, Denmark, where it will be bottled in glass bottles and shipped south. After the 150,000 bottles have been filled, the factory intends to shut down for the winter while it works out the final details of distribution. It plans to open again permanently in the spring with an expanded staff.
Posted 1 November 2009; 11:29:12 PM. Permalink
(RedOrbit, 31 October 2009) -- Canada and Greenland are taking steps to protect populations of polar bears that live between the two countries, officials announced on Friday. Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice announced this during a conference call after he signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) along with Greenland's Minister of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Ane Hansen and Prentice's Nunavut territory representative Daniel Shewchuk. The deal suggests the writing of a partnered committee that would advocate a total yearly number of polar bears to be harvested and an equal separation of the hunt. Hunting polar bears has been illegal since 1973, but the Arctic's indigenous peoples do not follow this ban due to reverence of their traditions, regardless of scientists' oppositions over how the pelts have been separated. The committee will also align science, conventional information and outreach programs. "The government of Canada is committed to working collaboratively to protect one of Canada's true natural, and national, symbols. An iconic animal, whose rare and rugged beauty stands as a stark reminder that Canada is one of the world's true Nordic nations," Prentice stated. Hansen emphasized that it was "important that traditional knowledge is used together with science" in the development, as Shewchuk noted that the MOU "will help us make the wisest possible management decisions for our polar bear populations."
Posted 1 November 2009; 5:39:47 PM. Permalink
(Nordic Council News, 28 October 2009) -- "The Arctic isn't just all ice, polar bears and glaciers. People live there too. And they need development opportunities. The issue of a new global climate agreement concerns us all, and it should be based on the principles of mutual respect for each other's circumstances, social and developmental justice and the willingness to take global responsibility," Kleist told the conference. He also stressed that it is much easier to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a high starting point than from a low one. "I hope therefore that a new climate agreement will allow less developed countries to establish new industries, despite the higher emissions they will cause, and that the rest of the world will help them to do so on a sustainable basis," he added. Kleist is a member of the Nordic Council Left-wing Socialist and Green Group (VSG).
Posted 28 October 2009; 10:06:16 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 26 October 2009) -- Nunavut will lobby against a U.S. proposal to ban the commercial trade of polar bears in many countries, a move that would affect Inuit sport hunting guides across the North. Earlier this month, the United States proposed reclassifiying the polar bear under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to effectively outlaw all commercial trade in the animals. The 175 countries that have signed the international treaty will vote on the proposal in March. Reclassifying the polar bear under CITES would ban sport hunters who go polar bear hunting in Nunavut from taking home their polar bear hides and trophies, which in turn would severely impact business for Inuit who make a living as hunting guides. The proposal follows the U.S. government's decision in 2008 to list the polar bear as a threatened species within that country, citing threats to the species by shrinking Arctic sea ice caused by climate change. But Nunavut Environment Minister Daniel Shewchuk said the U.S. does not understand that Canada has a good polar bear management system, and that the species is neither threatened nor endangered. "The message here that we have to send is that polar bears are strong and healthy in Canada, and our position on this is going to be to support and lobby Canada to present our position to the countries that belong to CITES," Shewchuk said Friday. Shewchuk said Nunavut will work with federal government counterparts to lobby other member countries in advance of the March vote.
Posted 27 October 2009; 5:56:21 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 17 October 2009) -- Managers with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Reindeer Research Program are trying to give a boost to the reindeer industry on the Seward Peninsula by providing a mobile slaughter facility along with an expert instructor who knows how to use it, reports the Geophysical Institute. Greg Finstad, head of the reindeer program at UAF, ordered a 45-foot self-contained slaughter plant, winterized it, had it barged to Nome, and helped design a "high-latitude range management course" at the university campus there. To run the program, Finstad hired Heikki Muhonen of Finland, who will live in Nome for about two years. "He's the world's expert," Finstad said. "He's set up slaughter facilities all across Russia, Kazakhstan, Finland, Sweden and Norway." One of Finstad's goals with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project is to teach local people how to process reindeer using the plant, which is approved by the USDA and will result in inspected steaks, backstrap, burger, and other cuts of meat. The reindeer industry on the Seward Peninsula is not what it once was. Following the migration of caribou onto the Seward Peninsula in the 1990s—when some herders saw hundreds of their animals drift off with the wild version of their species—there are now just a few viable herds in the area. Two are in the Teller area, and others roam the muskeg near Stebbins/St. Michael, Nome, Wales, and on St. Lawrence Island. Finstad said the mobile processing plant can be barged to areas with reindeer, and Muhonen will train people how to use it in different areas, with the goal of inspiration. Muhonen. who comes from a small village in Finland, visited the Seward Peninsula at the invite of UAF a few other times, giving meat-cutting clinics in different villages. He knows how to set up a processing plant, and he has experience working to train people on how to make it pay off, Finstad said. Finstad hopes the course and the slaughter facility will give villagers more ideas and options, not necessarily related to reindeer.
Posted 19 October 2009; 1:44:10 PM. Permalink
(Joshua Kucera/The Atlantic, November 2009) -- Aqqaluk Lynge has a recurring nightmare: “When I’m lying awake at night, I pray we don’t find oil.” That anxiety puts Lynge, the president of Greenland’s chapter of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, a group representing indigenous people from Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Russia, in the distinct minority of his 58,000 fellow islanders, most of whom hope that a huge oil find will ensure the success of Greenland’s independence from Denmark. Roughly 76 percent of the voters in a referendum last year wanted greater self-rule; on June 21 of this year, they got it. But as part of that self-rule deal, Denmark will end up reducing its annual subsidy to Greenland—about $11,000 per person, representing about 60 percent of the island’s budget. Hence the high hopes for oil revenue. Some estimates, including those of the U.S. Geological Survey, suggest Greenland’s coastal waters could hold anywhere from 16 billion to 47 billion barrels of oil, or 800,000 barrels for every man, woman, and child. That would mean a staggering leap in income for Greenlanders, who until two generations ago were mostly subsistence hunters and fishermen. With such massive potential oil reserves, Greenland is poised to achieve a geopolitical importance it hasn’t had since the invention of Risk. “We don’t want Greenland to be up for grabs,” worries Lynge. But oil has yet to actually be discovered, much less to flow, which is why Jens Frederiksen, the leader of Greenland’s Democratic Party, spearheaded the “no” campaign during last year’s referendum on self-governance. He says the government has too many pressing social needs—abysmal education levels, a crumbling public-housing stock, and massive rates of alcoholism—to reduce the Danish subsidy, especially since, even if oil is found, any revenue won’t start coming in for 15 or 20 years. Then there’s the fear that Greenland could become the Nigeria of the Arctic, another victim of the so-called resource curse, in which oil wealth triggers a downward spiral toward dysfunctional dictatorship. But judging from the offerings at the Greenland Expo, a trade fair held on the eve of Self-Governance Day, risking the curse may be an independent Greenland’s best hope for a viable future.
Posted 13 October 2009; 10:13:55 PM. Permalink
(UpstreamOnline, 6 October 2009)** -- The Nenets tribespeople of Russia's frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge—under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years. "For them it is fortune, for us terror," said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas monopoly Gazprom to drill the region. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described Yamal as "the world's storehouse" of gas and oil. Putin jetted into the sparsely populated region within the Arctic circle, 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) north-east of Moscow, in late September to woo foreign partners to develop a quarter of the world's known gas reserves. Experts and the Nenets say industry will damage and pollute the tundra, whose flat marshy terrain switches from marigold russets in summer to thick winter snow and is peppered with disc-like thermokarst lakes and crystal blue waterways. Nenets migrate north to south over 150 kilometres every year, spending only a few days in one place, living off reindeer and fish and lugging their "chums," or tents, kerosene lamps and wood-fired stoves on reindeer-pulled sleighs. "The fact they've found deposits here is catastrophic," said Slava Vanuito, 34.
Posted 8 October 2009; 3:24:41 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 29 September 2009) -- TORONTO - De Beers Canada is canceling the planned four-week winter shutdown at its Snap Lake diamond mine in Canada's Arctic due to improvements in the global diamond industry, the company said on Tuesday. De Beers, which is 45 percent-owned by mining group Anglo American, announced the shutdown earlier this year as the economic slowdown took a heavy toll on luxury goods. The decision to cancel the shutdown follows a similar move at the nearby Diavik diamond mine, which is owned by Harry Winston Diamond and Rio Tinto. "This is a good news decision in response to some positive trends we are seeing in the market place," said Jim Gowans, chief executive of De Beers' Canadian unit. Snap Lake, which is De Beers' first mine outside of South Africa, is located in Canada's Northwest Territories. The mine produces about 1.4 million carats a year. (Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson)
Posted 30 September 2009; 2:26:10 PM. Permalink
(Charles J. Hanley/AP via Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2009) -- TUKTOYAKTUK, Northwest Territories - Henry Jr. slept in the arms of his father the unhappy hunter, who pondered the future of the boy born last Arctic winter, in the depths of a polar bear season he'd rather forget. "It's too late to be a hunter. I don't want him to do that," Henry Nasogaluak said of his son. "It's a hard life, and it got harder with the ban by the United States." Baby Henry may not grow up to spend his life on the ice, with gun and dog team. But the white bear itself, ancient prey of his Inuvialuit people, seems destined to spend the coming decades as a target in 21st-century debates over what to do as the world warms. It's a story whose latest chapter will take the Inuvialuit, the Inuit of this remote Canadian coast, from the familiar frozen vastness of their northern sea to the confines of a Washington, D.C., courtroom, where they're contesting a U.S. ban on imports of polar-bearskin rugs. That 2008 ban has wrecked an estimated $3-million-a-year business in which Canadian Inuit guides took American sportsmen on the big-game trophy hunt of their lifetimes, at rates of $20,000 to $30,000 for a two-week dogsled trek in quest of their own half-ton "ice bear." Now blocked from bringing the skins home to adorn their dens, the southern hunters aren't coming north. Last season, Nasogaluak got no takers for his "tags," a three-bear quota that had helped him earn up to $40,000 a year. "It's just like I got fired out of my job. No compensation, no nothing," he told a visitor to his small wood-frame home in this seaside hamlet. "When you're 61 years old, you can't do anything else, because I don't know how to work any other job, because that was my job for over 40 years." Further chapters in the polar bear story may unfold in the coming months, as northern nations consider how to protect an animal whose world is melting around it.
Posted 22 September 2009; 9:25:27 PM. Permalink
(Eric Morrison/Juneau Empire, 9 September 2009) -- The sockeye fishery Sen. Albert Kookesh and three fellow subsistence fishermen are accused of overfishing in July was on the verge of collapse less than a decade ago due to overfishing, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Kookesh, D-Angoon, Stanley D. Johnson, Rocky L. Estrada Sr., and Scott T. Hunter were cited for illegally harvesting 73 sockeye over their limit on July 12 in Kanalku Bay near Angoon. District Attorney Doug Gardner filed paperwork Tuesday that joins the court cases together. All four men have pleaded not guilty and a trial has been set for Oct. 5. The maximum fine for the citation is $500. The men were cited after harvesting 148 sockeye with a beach seine net, 73 more salmon than allowed on the valid permits in their possession at the time. Each person's subsistence permit allows for 15 sockeye to be harvested from the Kanalku Lake area. One man in possession of a valid permit wasn't cited. According to the court documents, Kookesh first told the trooper that the group had about 60 to 70 sockeye before the fish were counted. After counting, Kookesh said that additional permits from people not present also were valid toward the limit. It is "common knowledge in Angoon that everyone could fish everyone's permit," Kookesh is quoted saying in the affidavit. In contrast, Kookesh told The Associated Press in August that he would fight the case to help align the state constitution with federal law governing subsistence on federal land.
Posted 14 September 2009; 5:32:12 PM. Permalink
(The Barents Observer via IceNews, 10 August 2009) -- The Sami parliament (Samediggi) governing the indigenous Sami people in Norway, decided not to approve the new mining law which Norwegian legislators passed earlier this year, according to the Sami news source, The Barents Observer. Egil Olli, President of the Sami parliament, stated that the assembly strongly opposes any application for mineral exploration in the Finnmark region. The Sami Parliament demands that any resources and mineral exploration should benefit mainly the local Sami communities and population, which brings up the controversial ongoing debates regarding indigenous land rights in the region. Egil Olli continues to state that any mining projects will be rejected by the Sami Parliament in the Finnmark area.
Posted 27 August 2009; 4:28:48 PM. Permalink
(Erika Bolstad/Anchorage Daily News, 23 August 2009) -- WASHINGTON -- After two centuries of an epic infestation, Alaska's Rat Island may finally merit a name change. The island, 1,300 miles west of Anchorage in the Aleutian chain, appears to be pest-free for the first time since rats overran it after a Japanese sailing ship wrecked there in the late 1700s. Scientists on the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge's research vessel, the Tiglax, stopped by in early August to check on the progress of the $3 million eradication. So far, "no sign of rats whatsoever," said Steve MacLean, the polar marine program director for The Nature Conservancy in Alaska, one of the partners in the rat-ridding effort. No gnawing was apparent on the waxy, peanut-butter infused bait blocks that, if bitten, would signal rats are still present nearly one year after crews dropped 700 pounds of poison-laced pellets. A research team will return next year to be sure they killed all rats, but MacLean said it wouldn't be unreasonable to consider calling the island by what is believed to be its original name, Howadax, which means "entry" or "welcome" in the Aleut language. "We would love nothing better than to return an Aleut name to the island," he said. "There would be nothing better."
Posted 24 August 2009; 2:40:46 PM. Permalink
(Kurt Kristensen/SermitsiaqNews from Greenland [24 August 2009]. Sermitsiaq.gl. 2009-08-24. URL:http://sermitsiaq.gl/rss/en_newsletter.jsp. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5jGu67JwM) -- It looks as if a mini gold rush is on the cards as the precious mineral is found in the south. Mineral research company NunaMinerals has spent up to 40 million kroner digging for gold this year. The company spent five of those millions drilling for gold in Greenland. It searched five different locations from late June to early August in South Greenland and in at least two of the wells, gold was visible to the naked eye, according to director Ole Christiansen. Most of the drilling took place in the Kirkespirdalen valley by Greenland's most southern town Nanortalik. NunaMinerals has applied for two new concessions. One 27sq km application entitled "Qassersuaq" would see drilling take place on the island of Qilanngarsuit, 35km south of Nuuk. The National Geological Surveys for Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) last year identified gold on the island and NunaMinerals has been swift with the concession application. Qilanngarsuit is part of the geological belt that is part of NunaMiner's gold province in Nuup Kangerlua (Nuuk Fjord).
Posted 24 August 2009; 10:06:32 AM. Permalink
(Kyle Hopkins/Anchorage Daily News, 20 August 2009) -- The bad news first: Recent bans on king salmon fishing on the Yukon River have regional leaders predicting this winter will be even tougher than last, when some villagers reported they couldn't afford to buy both food and heating fuel. Plus, it turns out a sonar station used to count salmon—a key source of cash and food along the river—wasn't working correctly. More fish were making it upriver than estimated, meaning some of the restrictions may not have been necessary. "We took some unprecedented measures because we thought the run was looking (to be) one of the poorest we've ever had," said Russ Holder, Yukon River federal fisheries manager. "In hindsight, it doesn't look as poor as those numbers indicated to us." The good news? By allowing so many fish to make it across the border, Alaska met its treaty obligation to Canada for the first time in three years. The agreement requires that enough kings reach the border to ensure strong future runs—plus leave the Canadians a few fish of their own to eat and sell. That's not much comfort for fishermen in Western Alaska, who faced a string of closures and lost a rare source of cash. In one village, fishermen were angry enough to stage an illegal subsistence fishing trip in protest.
Posted 20 August 2009; 12:23:37 PM. Permalink
(Ola Innset/Bellona, Charles Digges, trans., 18 August 2009) -- A nationwide survey undertaken by NRK Norwegian Television showed that a clear majority of Norwegians are against oil drilling near the north western coastal areas of Lofoten and Vesterålen, which are rich in fisheries and exceptional natural beauty. “David can slay Goliath,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “We have a powerful enemy in the oil industry and they use considerable resources to sway public opinion with them.” In this Parliamentary election year for Norway, allowing or denying oil companies access to the oil oil reserves off the coasts of Lofoten and Vesterålen may trigger some of the most heated debates leading up to the autumn elections. Bellona has long advocated closing off the Lofoten and Vesterålen basins for the oil industry as “long-term oil-free areas.” Yet Norway’s oil reserves are also a source of the lion’s share of the country’s wealth, ensuring that the Scandinavian country has the highest standard of living of any country on earth. The divisions between those who are for drilling and against therefore may not, come election day, be so stark.
Posted 19 August 2009; 10:38:11 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 19 August 2009) -- Murmansk is getting ready for this year’s most important event, the first Murmansk International Economic Forum. More than 300 persons have so far registered as participations in the forum, which takes place in Murmansk October 15-17 and focuses on the theme “The Arctic in the 21st century – development strategies”. The aim is to initiate discussions on the economic development strategy of the North, the forum’s web site reads. Several conferences will be covering issues like development of the energy sector, the fishing industry, cross-border cooperation in the Barents region, management of natural resources in the North of Russia. Special attention will be focused on further development of Shtokman gas condensate field. As BarentsObserver reported earlier this summer, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will take part in the forum.
Posted 19 August 2009; 10:29:00 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/AP via Anchorage Daily News, 18 August 2009) -- EDMONTON, Alberta - In a modern replay of the Klondike Gold Rush, dozens of mining companies have recently staked thousands of fresh claims in an area that once teemed with old-time panners and prospectors moiling for gold. But this time, instead of swarming over streams and gravel beds teasing out flakes of the precious metal, miners may have found the fabled and elusive mother lode. "We've finally found the first one that actually shows enough gold in one spot to say, 'Ahh, this is the type of deposit that could have produced the Klondike,'" said Shawn Ryan of Dawson, Yukon. Ryan has combined 10 years of old-fashioned bushwhacking and the latest high-tech data-gathering to find a gold belt 5 1/2 miles long. The prospector's find is in the so-called White Gold area, south of Dawson, near where the White and Yukon rivers meet. The area isn't new to gold seekers. In the late 1890s, it was part of the Klondike Gold Rush, which saw tens of thousands of hopeful "cheechakos," or newcomers, flood into the Yukon hoping to pan and sluice their way to riches. Dawson swelled to 30,000 as creeks and gravel bars yielded millions of dollars of gold. The sources of that gold were never found. But Maurice Colpron of the Yukon Geological Survey says the White Gold find could be one of them "The mother lode is still out there and that's the hype around the White Gold area."
Posted 18 August 2009; 11:46:54 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 17 August 2009) -- The Swedish state-owned mining company LKAB in the second quarter of 2009 had a loss of 558 million SEK (54.7 mill EUR). That is one of the worst results ever for the mining major in northern Sweden. "The second quarter of the year has been one of the most dramatic in the history of the plant," the company admits in its quarterly report. LKAB in the second quarter had a 72 percent drop in turnover to 1.72 billion SEK and deliveries shrunk 38 percent. At the same time, iron prices dropped significantly in the period. The reason is first of all the lower domestic and international demand on iron. The company does however expect an improvement of the situation in the second half of the year. Thanks to Chinese and Middle East customers, the number of deliveries will increase in the months ahead, the company report reads. The LKAB is mining iron ore in mines at Kiruna and at Malmberget in northern Sweden. The company which was established in 1890, is 100 percent state-owned since the 1950s. The iron ore is processed to pellets and fines, and transported by train to the harbours at Narvik and Luleå and to the steelmill at Luleå (SSAB).
Posted 17 August 2009; 11:29:01 PM. Permalink
(Thomas Courchene/The Globe and Mail, 29 July 2009)** -- The Harper government recently released “Canada's Northern Strategy,” which is anchored on the four pillars of sovereignty, environmental sustainability, socio-economic development and devolution. This dedicated strategy is most welcome and long overdue. Most Canadians are generally comfortable with the government's Arctic policies and are becoming increasingly aware that all of us, not just those who live north of 60, have a social, cultural and economic interest in the North's successful development. The pillar where there may be some anxiety is devolution, especially resource devolution. No doubt, some of this anxiety arises from the rather astonishing values of per-capita cash transfers under Territorial Formula Financing (TFF), the territorial version of the provincial equalization program. These values, with percentage of total territorial revenue they account for, are: Yukon, $18,166 (65 per cent); Northwest Territories, $18,704 (65 per cent); and Nunavut, $30,265 (81 per cent). Compared to the highest per capita provincial equalization payment, PEI's $2,300, the territories appear to qualify as fiscal wards of the central government, and as such, one must be careful when it comes to further devolution – or so the story would go. In fact, this interpretation is quite misleading.
Posted 16 August 2009; 6:21:45 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 August 2009) -- Members of an Indian band are blocking access to a $1.3-billion hydroelectric development project in northern Manitoba. Some members of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation near Nelson House, Man., have blocked construction access to the Wuskwatim Dam project, a 200-megawatt generating station that is being built by Manitoba Hydro at Taskinigup Falls on the Burntwood River. A spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro says the group is allowing people to walk through the barricade, but stopping vehicles from passing. The protesters claim Manitoba Hydro is not living up to an agreement to provide jobs to members of the local band, claiming at least one-third of workers should be from the local area. Manitoba Hydro said there are about 300 aboriginal workers at Wuskwatim, of which about 44 are from Nisichawayasihk. Hydro said it does not believe the protest is sanctioned by the chief and council of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. The dam is being developed as a joint venture between Manitoba Hydro and the Nisichawayasihk band. The project is the first time the Crown-owned power utility has entered into an equity partnership with a First Nations community on a generating station project. Construction of the dam and generating station, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is due to be completed in 2011.
Posted 14 August 2009; 1:14:31 PM. Permalink
(Kate Ravilious/The New Scientist, No. 2720, 6 August 2009) -- Within sixty years the Arctic Ocean could be a stagnant, polluted soup. Without drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, the Transpolar Drift, one of the Arctic's most powerful currents and a key disperser of pollutants, is likely to disappear because of global warming. The Transpolar Drift is a cold surface current that travels right across the Arctic Ocean from central Siberia to Greenland, and eventually out into the Atlantic. It was first discovered in 1893 by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who tried unsuccessfully to use the current to sail to the North Pole. Together with the Beaufort Gyre, the Transpolar Drift keeps Arctic waters well mixed and ensures that pollution never lingers there for long. To better understand the dispersal of pollution in the Arctic Ocean, Ola Johannessen, director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, Norway, and his colleagues studied the spread of radioactive substances such as strontium-90 and caesium-137 from nuclear testing, bomb factories and nuclear power-plant accidents. Measurements taken between 1948 and 1999 were plugged into a high-resolution ocean circulation model and combined with a climate model to predict Arctic Ocean circulation until 2080. Their model confirmed that most pollutants, including pesticide, petroleum residue and nuclear fallout, are currently washed out into the north Atlantic by the Transpolar Drift. But perhaps not for much longer.
Posted 6 August 2009; 7:49:08 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 29 July 2009) -- Russian gas major will not cancel any contract with partners in the Komi Republic, but only postpone project deadlines. The main part of the pipeline which is to stretch from the Yamal peninsula runs across the territory of the Komi Republic. In a meeting between Gazprom and Komi regional authorities today, the company representatives said that work with the 1100 km long pipeline will proceed, however not in line to previous time schedules. Company representative Sergei Prozorov confirmed that the Bovanenkovo field, the huge 4.9 trillion cubic meter field in Yamal will be ready for production in the third quarter of 2012, Komiinform.ru reports. The pipeline construction on Komi territory will restart in November, he added. None of the company’s commitments for the republic will suffer, the company representative stressed. "All key figures remain, only the time schedule is changed," he said. As BarentsObserver reported in mid-June, Gazprom has decided to postpone the launch of the Bovanenkovo field with one year, from 2011 to 2012.
Posted 29 July 2009; 11:25:42 AM. Permalink
(Anna Mehler Paperny/Globe and Mail, 29 July 2009) -- The heat in the debate over Arctic sovereignty was kicked up a few degrees this week with news that Denmark and Norway are increasing their Arctic military capabilities. Canada responded by moving to raise its profile in the North. But the most immediate threat to Canada's territorial claims in the North is not military. It is a proposed U.S. ban on fishing in a part of the Beaufort Sea claimed by both countries—a move that could force Ottawa to back up its aggressive stand on Arctic sovereignty or risk weakening its position in future disputes over who's in charge in the North. ... A plan released earlier this year for Alaska's North Pacific Fishery Management Council concluded that the area does not have enough of any fish species to permit commercial fishing, and recommended a ban. The proposed law, now under review by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, will likely come into effect this fall, said Melanie Brown, fishery program specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau. Canadian law permits fishing close to shore in the area, but requires anyone wanting to set up a commercial fishery to submit an application, subject to a multiyear evaluation, outlining the proposal and its viability. The two countries' policies on fishing in Arctic waters aren't far apart. But “the issue is who is going to have final say in terms of fishing” in the disputed zone, said Robert Huebert, associate director of the University of Calgary's Centre for Military and Strategic Studies.
Posted 29 July 2009; 9:20:31 AM. Permalink
(Canwest News Service, 27 July 2009) -- The federal government unveiled a sweeping report on its Arctic policy Sunday, aimed at asserting Canada's claim to offshore resource rights while addressing development in the most remote regions of the country. The report, called Canada's Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, was unveiled by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl at a news conference in Gatineau, Que. As reported Saturday, the new report summarizes the "concrete action" being taken in the four main areas of the government's northern strategy—sovereignty, social and economic development, the environment and governance reform—and casts Canada as a leader on the international stage when it comes to charting the Arctic's future. "Our government is making the North one of our top priorities, placing it higher on the agenda than it has been in many decades," said Strahl. Among the hallmarks of the strategy include building Canada's largest icebreaker, CCGS John G. Diefenbaker, to assist in Arctic naval patrols, and the construction of a deep-sea port for refuelling in Nanisivik. The Mackenzie Gas Project, a 1,200-kilometre natural gas pipeline that will be partly owned by local Aboriginal populations, will be the centrepiece of the economic platform. The report was released just days after U.S. and Canadian scientists announced a joint project to continue mapping much of the Arctic seabed north of Alaska and the Northwest Territories.
Posted 27 July 2009; 11:03:48 AM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 27 July 2009) -- North Slope production dropped 17 percent from May to June as the trans-Alaska oil pipeline took its first planned summer timeout for maintenance work June 20-21. North Slope production dropped below 300,000 barrels per day over that weekend. For the entire month, oil companies produced 591,666 barrels a day in June from the Slope's oil fields, compared with 714,913 in May. At the biggest field, the BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. run Prudhoe Bay, a plant called gathering center 2, which handles production from many wells, went down June 2 for a month-long turnaround. Production at Prudhoe averaged 248,747 barrels per day in June, down 31 percent from May.
Posted 27 July 2009; 10:22:31 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 22 July 2009) -- The Sami Parliament will not approve new mining projects in the northernmost Norwegian county of Finnmark, parliament speaker Egil Olli says. The Sami Parliament has strongly opposed the Norwegian national mineral law which was adopted by Norwegian legislators earlier this year. The parliament was unable to get its positions included in the law and has since threatened with a boycott of the new legislation. The Sami Parliament will not accept any mineral exploration in the region and will turn down all applications from interested companies, Olli stresse [sic] says to ABC Nyheter. "The Sami Parliament in May decided that it can not accept the mineral industry which the law is supposed to regulate," he adds. As reported previously by BarentsObserver, the Sami Parliament demands that local Sami communities get more benefits from regional industrial activities and that mining companies pay special fees for the indigenous people.
Posted 22 July 2009; 12:24:31 PM. Permalink
(Claudia Cattaneo/Financial Post, 14 June 2009) -- CALGARY - Abundant cheap supplies of natural gas from new shale deposits, plus growing imports of liquefied natural gas flowing into the United States, push back by 15 years the need for Arctic gas and make it difficult for higher-cost gas from Western Canada to compete, says pipeline executive Steve Letwin. The North American natural gas industry is "overbuilt," pointing to weak prices for a long time, said Mr. Letwin, Houston-based executive vice-president, gas transportation and international, at Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. Years of worry about supply shortages because of the maturing of conventional supplies have been replaced by worries there aren't enough customers for the 1,200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in shale deposits -- enough to last a century -- found in the past three years, plus liquefied natural gas coming from offshore that is "needed like a hole in the head," Mr. Letwin said in an interview. "The biggest issue that we now have is [insufficient] demand," said Mr. Letwin. "And in the absence of demand, you are going to see a price for gas that is going to be kept between US$5 and US$7 for a long time to come." ... While oil prices have increased by 60% since the beginning of the year, on expectations that global supplies will be tight due to lack of investment when the economy recovers, natural gas prices are down 30% over the same period. Natural gas closed in New York at US$3.857 on Friday, down US7.6¢, on concern that demand from industrial and power plant consumers will be below normal levels until the end of the year. Mr. Letwin said prices could weaken further before the heating season starts in November. Shale producers in the U.S. can make money at low prices, he said. But the trend is not promising for natural gas stranded in the Arctic, which has been waiting for decades for pipelines to be built so it can be commercialized.
Posted 17 June 2009; 6:01:37 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 5 June 2009) -- OSLO - Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro and Russia's Gazprom agreed on Friday to extended cooperation in exploring and producing petroleum resources in northern regions, StatoilHydro said. The agreement is valid for three years and replaces a similar 2005 Arctic cooperation deal between Gazprom, Statoil and Norsk Hydro (Oslo: NHY.OL - news) before Statoil bought Norsk Hydro's oil and gas assets to form StatoilHydro in 2007. StatoilHydro is partnered with Gazprom and France's Total to develop the giant Shtokman gas field in Russia's part of the Barents Sea in the Arctic. 'The Memorandum stipulates that the parties will cooperate in northern regions of Russia and Norway to discover and develop hydrocarbon fields, as well as to design technologies for exploration, production and transportation of corresponding resources,' StatoilHydro said in a statement. Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller, who signed the deal with StatoilHydro's CEO Helge Lund in St Petersburg, said Shtokman would be 'the starting point' for developing Arctic oil and gas resources. Gazprom has said it expects to take an investment decision on Shtokman with Total and StatoilHydro in the first quarter of 2010, and aims to begin exporting gas by pipeline from the field in 2013 and as liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2014. Lund said the cooperation deal underscored the long-term continuity of the relationship between StatoilHydro and Gazprom.
Posted 5 June 2009; 8:46:23 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 3 June 2009) -- COPENHAGEN - A final decision on conflicting territorial claims on the Arctic seabed must be made by the United Nations, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday. However, Sergei Lavrov said that before a final ruling can be made by a relevant UN commission, "all countries laying claim to the continental shelf and parts of the Arctic should settle their disputes between themselves." The five Arctic coastal nations agreed at negotiations in late May that the UN must decide on conflicting territorial claims. "We affirmed our commitment to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said at the time. Foreign ministers from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States met in Greenland. Arctic territories, believed to hold vast untapped oil and gas reserves, have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice. President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible. Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions—to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007—to support its territorial claims in the region. Moscow has pledged to submit documentary evidence to the UN on the external boundaries of Russia's territorial shelf by 2010.
Posted 5 June 2009; 11:53:00 AM. Permalink
(Randolph E. Schmid/AP, 28 May 2009) -- WASHINGTON - Nearly one-third of the natural gas yet to be discovered in the world is north of the Arctic Circle and most of it is in Russian territory, according to a new analysis led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey. "These findings suggest that in the future the ... pre-eminence of Russian strategic control of gas resources in particular is likely to be accentuated and extended," said Donald L. Gautier, lead author of the study published in Friday's edition of the journal Science. Russia is already the world's leading natural gas producer, noted Gautier, of the Geological Survey's office in Menlo Park, Calif. The report, by an international scientific team, estimated that the Arctic also contains between 3 and 4 percent of the world's oil resources remaining to be discovered. Two-thirds of the undiscovered gas is in just four areas—South Kara Sea, North Barents Basin, South Barents Basin and the Alaska Platform—the report said. Indeed, the South Kara Sea off Siberia contains 39 percent of the Arctic's undiscovered gas, the researchers said.
Posted 28 May 2009; 9:47:25 PM. Permalink
(Thorleifur Petursson/IceNews, 9 May 2009) -- It’s been 37 years coming, but a Greenlandic bowhead whale has been hunted and caught near the town of Qeqertarsuaq, thus finally filling its special quota to catch a single whale. In 1973, the historic Greenland whaling town was granted permission to hunt a single whale in commemoration of the town’s 200th anniversary. It took nearly four decades, but Qeqertarsuaq whalers finally hauled in a bowhead whale that weighed 40 tonnes and measured 14 metres long. SIKUnews reports the bowhead will be processed and distributed to the local community on 21 June to celebrate the start of Greenland’s self-rule. Qeqertarsuaq is an historic whaling town that specialised in the hunting of the Greenlandic whale during the 1800s and 1900s. However, in 1932, all Bowhead whales were officially listed as protected species. Greenland does, however, hunt other species of whale. Last year, the International Whaling Commission granted Greenland its first bowhead whaling quota since 1932. They can hunt two bowhead whales per year from 2008 to 2012. Since no bowheads were caught in 2008, the quota tally carried over into 2009. Therefore, four whales may be caught this year. Since the Greenland government pays for the expenses of whale hunting, the first two whales that are caught must go to the government for research purposes. Biologists will receive the bones, eyes and sample tissues to study. But the meat and blubber will go to the citizens of Qeqertarsuaq to honour Greenland’s self rule.
Posted 10 May 2009; 2:05:41 AM. Permalink
(Semitsiaq, 30 April 2009) -- The first Greenlandic whale has been caught after Greenland received its first quota last year since total protection of the species began in 1932. For the first time in 37 years a Greenlandic whale has been hunted in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland, after it received special permission to hunt just one in 1973 as part of the town’s 200 year anniversary. The latest whale will be processed and its meat and blubber handed out as gifts to members of the community on 21 June to celebrate the introduction of self-rule to Greenland, currently a home rule country within the greater Kingdom of Denmark. Qeqertarsuaq was historically a whale hunting town, specialising in the hunting of the Greenlandic whale, in the 1800s and 1900s. The recent whale haul weighed in at 40 tonnes and was more than 14 metres in length. Greenland recently received a quota from the International Whaling Commission for two Greenlandic whales per year for the period 2008-2012, with allowances being made to carry quotas forward from one year to the next. As no whales were hunted in 2008, the quota for this year is four. The first two whales caught are the property of the government, including the bones, which has decided that biologists will receive sample tissues, whalebones and eyes for research purposes. The government have also covered the expenses involved in hunting the whale, according to Amalie Jessen, head of the department for hunting and fishing.
Posted 1 May 2009; 10:48:20 AM. Permalink
(Elizabeth Bluemink/Anchorage Daily News, 29 April 2009) -- Forget Pebble for a minute. There's another huge project gearing up in Southwest Alaska, and it would turn a swath of spruce- and tundra-covered land owned by Alaska Natives in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region into one of the world's largest gold mines. The mining companies running the Donlin Creek exploration project say their studies show potential for making billions and they plan to apply soon for the environmental and construction permits they'll need to build the open-pit mine, one of them announced Tuesday. The companies -- NovaGold Resources, a small mining company, and Barrick Gold Corp., one of the world's largest producers, both based in Canada -- are gunning to build Donlin because of its massive storehouse of gold. Building Donlin also would deliver the long-held dream of some corporate Yup'ik Native leaders to create a large industry in the Yukon- Kuskokwim region, where the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation and typically is the highest in Alaska. ... Though Donlin is moving faster toward permitting than Pebble -- a massive copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska hundreds of miles to the south in the Bristol Bay region -- it hasn't generated nearly as much public attention and political conflict. But Donlin is also a large-scale project and it could create some big changes in the river-dependent communities of the region. "The real impact is going to be seen at the region out there with all of the wages that will be taken home," said Steve Borell, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association.
Posted 29 April 2009; 1:24:20 PM. Permalink
(ENS, 17 April 2009) -- WASHINGTON, DC, April 17, 2009 (ENS) - Three conservation groups and a native village in Alaska declared victory today as the federal government's attempt to expand oil and gas drilling off the Alaska coast was vacated by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, DC. The three judge panel ruled that the Bush-era Department of the Interior failed to consider the impact of drilling on the ocean and on marine life before it began the process in August 2005 of expanding an oil and gas leasing program in the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi seas. The court ordered the Interior Department, headed currently by Secretary Ken Salazar, to analyze the proposed leasing areas to determine the risk of environmental damage before moving ahead with lease sales. The judges sided with the Center for Biological Diversity, Alaska Wilderness League, Pacific Environment and the Native Village of Point Hope, who argued that the 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program would turn sensitive areas into polluted industrial zones.
Posted 18 April 2009; 3:38:10 PM. Permalink
(LA Times, 14 April 2009) -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin acknowledged Tuesday that global warming was harming her state but said stepped-up natural gas production could mitigate its effects. Speaking at a hearing before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar—the third of several he is holding across the country to consider renewed oil and gas leasing on the outer continental shelf—Palin said that relatively clean-burning natural gas could supplant dirtier fuels and slow the discharge of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. “We Alaskans are living with the changes that you are observing in Washington,” she said. “The dramatic decreases in the extent of summer sea ice, increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, decrease in alpine glaciers and overall ecosystem changes are very real to us.” In the past, Palin has questioned the science behind predictions of sea ice loss. Her administration sued the federal government to block endangered-species protections for polar bears, whose habitat is melting. When she was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year, partisan crowds cheered her on by chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.” But at Tuesday’s hearing, she made it clear that she recognized the problem of global warming. She cast energy development as part of the answer.
Posted 15 April 2009; 4:39:32 PM. Permalink
(Government of Nunavut press release, 14 April 2009) -- Based on the European Union's (EU) proposal to ban seal products, Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak strongly objects to the EU application to become a permanent observer at the Arctic Council. "The European Union's proposed ban on seal products ignores the very real negative impact their discussions already have on the market for all Canadian seal pelts and on the people of Nunavut," said Premier Aariak. "The proposal to ban seal products is harmful to Inuit interests, demonstrates a lack of knowledge of its impacts on Arctic indigenous peoples, and is inconsistent with the type of partnership we need at the Arctic Council. I call on Canada to oppose the EU's application for permanent observer status at the Arctic Council." The Commission of the European Communities proposed that the Commission apply for permanent observer status as a first step to enhance input to the Arctic Council "in accordance with the Community's role and potential". "I have very real apprehensions about the role and potential of an applicant for permanent observer status who has so little regard or appreciation for the impact of its actions on the Inuit of Nunavut and other indigenous peoples of the Arctic," said Premier Aariak. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum for Arctic governments and peoples. It promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among member states. Canada is one of eight member states. There are six permanent participants, including the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
Posted 14 April 2009; 4:37:51 PM. Permalink
(Sheldon Alberts/The Montreal Gazette, 6 April 2009) -- WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said the Obama administration is "committed" to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, touting the decades-old treaty as the best way for Arctic powers to resolve competing territorial claims over the Far North's resource-rich seabed. With global warming opening the Northwest Passage to increased navigation — and the potential for competition among Canada, the United States, Russia and other nations in tapping the Arctic's vast oil and gas reserves — Clinton said she's committed to a "high level of engagement" in negotiating future disputes over the region. "It is crucial we work together," Clinton said at the opening of an international summit on the future of the Arctic and Antarctica. "That starts with the Law of the Sea Convention, which President (Barack) Obama and I are committed to ratifying, to give the United States and our partners the clarity we need to work together smoothly and effectively in the Arctic region."
Posted 7 April 2009; 2:41:15 PM. Permalink
(Kathleen Harris/Edmonton Sun, 7 April 2009) -- Canada and the U.S. will partner on a strategy to develop the melting Arctic, but remain sharply at odds over transit rights through the Northwest Passage. In Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the two nations will co-operate on a strategy for security, cutting pollution and boosting search and rescue operations in the North. But the pair did not reach consensus on the political hot potato of shipping rights through the thawing sea route. "The status of the file is basically to continue to agree to disagree," he said. Canada views the Northwest Passage as sovereign waters, but the U.S. views it as an international strait. Thick Arctic ice for much of the year now prevents marine shipping in the passage, but climate change could soon make it regularly navigable. In a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Cannon said experts are split on when the Arctic could be ice-free. Some predictions say it could be as soon as 2013, others range to 2050.
Posted 7 April 2009; 10:56:23 AM. Permalink
(European Space Agency press release, 1 April 2009) -- Arctic reindeer herders are facing the challenges of adapting to climate change as a warmer Arctic climate makes it harder for herds to find food and navigate. To help them adapt, the ESA-backed Polar View initiative is providing them with satellite-based snow maps. "Snow is of paramount importance for reindeer herding because its quality determines whether reindeer are able to access the pastures that lie beneath it for much of the year," said Anders Oskal, the Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR). "Detailed circumpolar snow information is, thus, becoming increasingly important following the recent changes in the Arctic climate." Oskal is working with Sámi reindeer herders in Finnmark, Norway, to help them maintain and develop sustainable reindeer husbandry. According to him, Finnmark is the area of Norway that is predicted to experience the largest temperature increases, raising concerns about whether ice layers will form over pastures preventing reindeer from foraging. For this reason, ICR partnered with Polar View to examine how satellite observations could help by gathering information on snow and snow change in a timely and accurate manner for such vast circumpolar regions. Under the Polar View initiative, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) have been providing snow melt maps for Norway and Sweden and Eurasia snow cover maps for the last 18 months. "The experience so far has definitely been positive, and the reindeer herders are extremely interested in the future utilisation of Polar View products that can relate important information about local snow conditions," Oskal said.
Posted 1 April 2009; 8:57:05 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 March 2009) -- Spending on mining exploration across Canada's North is expected to drop sharply from last year, according to projections contained in preliminary survey results released by the federal government. The two-page bulletin from Natural Resources Canada, released this month, estimates that exploration companies intend to spend $168.2 million in Nunavut this year, compared to $273.6 million last year. The decline in exploration spending will be more acutely felt in the neighbouring Northwest Territories and Yukon, according to the department bulletin. Only $28.4 million is expected be spent in the N.W.T. this year, compared to $133.1 million spent in 2008. Similarly, the Yukon can expect spending of $25.3 million this year, compared to $123.4 million last year. Across the country, mining exploration companies told the federal department's survey they plan to spend less than they did last year. The department cites collapsing mineral and metal commodity prices in the last half of 2008, which led to an unprecedented slowdown in the mining industry, for the projected decline in spending this year.
Posted 10 March 2009; 10:15:18 PM. Permalink
(APF, 12 February 2009) -- KIRUNA, Sweden (AFP) — Far from the idyllic image of lone herders skiing after their reindeer, indigenous Samis in Sweden's far north today use snowmobiles and other vehicles, giving rise to an animal welfare campaign as far away as Britain. "Everything progresses in this world. We have to hang on and follow the development," says Jaavna Allas, a 30-year-old Sami reindeer herder with cheeks glowing red after a day out following his flock near Kiruna, some 145 kilometres (90 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. He and other herders here who have spent their careers chasing flocks of the graceful creatures with their towering antlers and bushy white tails across the wind-swept plains of the Swedish Lappland insist snowmobiles, motorbikes and even helicopters have become necessary tools of their trade. "It wouldn't be possible to herd reindeer today on skis. The grazing areas are so few and far between," Allas says, pointing out that the forestry industry has laid waste to many of the traditional grazing grounds, while a sharp increase in winter tourism in northern Sweden has also lengthened transit routes. The modern herding methods, which have in fact been in use for decades, have however drawn the ire of vegetarian animal welfare group Viva, which launched a pre-Christmas campaign against Swedish furniture giant Ikea over its sale of meat from Santa's helpers in its stores in Britain. "We suddenly realised there was a movement in the UK with more people eating reindeer for Christmas ... as an ironic holiday dish," Viva spokesman Justin Kerswell told AFP in a telephone interview from London.
Posted 13 February 2009; 8:13:18 AM. Permalink
(Juliet Eilperin/Washington Post, 6 February 2009) -- Federal fisheries managers have voted to bar all commercial fishing in U.S. waters from north of the Bering Strait and east to the Canadian border in light of the rapid climate changes that are transforming the Arctic. In a unanimous vote yesterday, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council ruled that scientists and policymakers need to better assess how global warming is affecting the region before allowing fishing on stocks such as Arctic cod, saffron cod and snow crab. "There's concern over unregulated fishing, there's concern about warming, there's concern about how commercial fishing might affect resources in the region, local residents and subsistence fishing and the ecosystem as a whole," said Bill Wilson, a council aide. Environmentalists and fishing interests praised the move as sensible, given the changes to ice cover and other features of the Arctic environment. The Marine Conservation Alliance—an association representing fishermen and processors who harvest groundfish and crab off Alaska's coast—endorsed the council's decision to close an area spanning nearly 200,000 square miles, an area nearly twice as large as the U.S. national park system. "We really feel strongly the science needs to catch up with the rate of change in the Arctic," David Benton, the association's executive director, said in an interview.
Posted 6 February 2009; 12:12:09 AM. Permalink