(Sever-Press via Yamal.org, 6 March 2013) -- This year the Department of Agro-industrial Complex, Trade and Provision of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug plans to undertake scientific and research work "Elaboration of the methodology for calculation of reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region". The director of the department, Vyacheslav Kucherenko, explained the project to the conference of Yamal Union of Reindeer Herders, and said the methodology is intended to yield information for substantiating and taking administrative decisions on planning economic and nature-protecting activities and also use for practical aims by economic subjects. By his words, intensive industrial development of Yamal brings to decrease in territories of pastures. At the same time, number of domestic reindeer in the territory of Yamalskiy and Tazovskiy districts stays on the high level, which brings to more intensive use of reindeer pastures. Thus, it is necessary to elaborate the methodology and to calculate reindeer capacity of pastures on the territory of the region.
Posted 11 March 2013; 4:27:10 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 8 March 2013) -- The national park “Russian Arctic” could have had 20-25 000 more tourists if it had been easier to get a visa and if there had been a border-crossing point on Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, the park’s administration says according to the web site travel.ru. The national park lacks every kind of infrastructure, but this is precisely what the tourists come to experience. The Russian settlements of Svalbard are other places that many foreign visitors would like to visit if it was easier accessible. Norwegian hotels on Svalbard are visited by nearly 80.000 people every year, with an annual growth of 10 percent over the last years. Meanwhile, the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Piramida draw less than 2500 people annually. The niche of Arctic winter tourism is booming as the world opens its eyes for the combination of winter, ocean and northern lights, and tourists are willing to pay a high price to experience the untouched nature. Russia has big plans for developing tourism in the Arctic. The national park “Russian Arctic” was established in 2011. It includes the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island and covers almost 1,5 million hectares of territory. The Russian Federal Tourism Agency is planning to develop a brand that can help promote the Russian part of Svalbard as a tourist destination, as BarentsObserver wrote.
Posted 10 March 2013; 6:51:04 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 20 February 2013) -- The Russian Government has approved the strategic program on Arctic development up to 2020, signed by President Vladimir Putin. The strategic program, which was published by the government today and signed by President Vladimir Putin, includes development of an integrated transport system in the Arctic, establishment of a competitive scientific and technological sector, development of international cooperation and the preservation of the Arctic as a zone of peace. The document, which is quite general in its formulations and covers almost every aspect of management of this huge area, guarantees state support to the development of infrastructure for transport, industry and energy, as well as to scientific, scientific-technical and innovational activities. During the first stage of implementation of the program (to 2015) Russia plans to focus on development of infrastructure for communication and information in the High North, establishment of centers for search and rescue along the Northern Sea Route, strengthening of FSB’s coast guard service and development of an integrated national system for environmental monitoring of the Arctic zone. The program on Arctic development states the main priorities for state investment policy, regulations of labor relations and social politics in the Arctic zone.
Posted 21 February 2013; 12:56:18 AM. 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
(Laurence Peter/BBC News, 25 January 2013) -- The toxic legacy of the Cold War lives on in Russia's Arctic, where the Soviet military dumped many tonnes of radioactive hardware at sea. For more than a decade, Western governments have been helping Russia to remove nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines docked in the Kola Peninsula - the region closest to Scandinavia. But further east lies an intact nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Kara Sea, and its highly enriched uranium fuel is a potential time bomb. This year the Russian authorities want to see if the K-27 sub can be safely raised, so that the uranium - sealed inside the reactors - can be removed. They also plan to survey numerous other nuclear dumps in the Kara Sea, where Russia's energy giant Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil are now exploring for oil and gas. Seismic tests have been done and drilling of exploratory wells is likely to begin next year, so Russia does not want any radiation hazard to overshadow that. ... On the western flank is a closed military zone - the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It was where the USSR tested hydrogen bombs - above ground in the early days. Besides K-27, official figures show that the Soviet military dumped a huge quantity of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea: 17,000 containers and 19 vessels with radioactive waste, as well as 14 nuclear reactors, five of which contain hazardous spent fuel. Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea. Norwegian experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are satisfied that there is no evidence of a radiation leak - the Kara Sea's radioisotope levels are normal. But Ingar Amundsen, an official at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), says more checks are needed. The risk of a leak through seawater corrosion hangs over the future - and that would be especially dangerous in the case of K-27, he told BBC News.
Posted 20 February 2013; 11:24:25 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 11 February 2013) -- BLAGOVESHCHENSK, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Police in Russia’s Far East Amur Region have seized some 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds) of mammoth tusks from residents of the neighboring Republic of Yakutia, the regional interior affairs department said on Monday. “Police found 71 tusks weighing about 600 kilograms at a warehouse [in Blagoveschensk],” the department said, adding three men were planning to sell the tusks to Chinese nationals. Police are currently investigating whether the fossils were obtained legally. The world market price of mammoth tusk is almost equal to the price of silver. One kilogram is worth 5,000 rubles ($166) at international auctions in Yakutsk, capital of Yakutia. Some 90 percent of the mammoth remains found so far have come from Yakutia. The region’s extreme weather conditions and permafrost allow scientists to find their remains largely intact.
Posted 11 February 2013; 3:49:39 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
(BBC News, 7 January 2013) -- An influx of wolves preying on reindeer herds has triggered a state of emergency in the Sakha Republic, in north-eastern Russia. Squads of hunters will pursue the wolves in a three-month "battle" from 15 January, officials say. The most successful hunters will get bonuses. The vast, sparsely populated region is also known as Yakutia. Experts quoted by Russian media believe a shortage of mountain hares has caused the migration of hungry wolves. Wolf packs have moved into Sakha's central reindeer pastures, from their normal hunting grounds in the mountains and dense forests. Reports speak of increased attacks on livestock, but not on humans. The wolf-hunting season has been extended to the whole year, as the target is to get the wolf population in the region down to 500 - reckoned to be the optimal number. Currently there are estimated to be more than 3,500. There will be a "six-figure sum" for hunters who bring in the most wolf pelts - a big incentive, as 100,000 roubles (£2,043; $3,280) goes a long way in a region that is famously cold, remote and under-developed. The emergency measures were announced by Sakha President Yegor Borisov, who heard numerous complaints about wolf attacks when he visited several villages, a statement on his website said.
Posted 7 January 2013; 11:56:28 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 4 December 2012) -- Shopping has flourished in Murmansk in course of the last ten years. The town has several large shopping centers, the largest for the time being is “Forum” with its 22.000 m² and four floors of shops, restaurants and cinemas. The new mall will be located in the center of Murmansk next to the O’key supermarket, which opened in 2008 and has become a huge success among Murmansk citizens. The mall will have three floors with chain shops like “Zara”, “H&M”, “Pull&Bear”, a cinema with nine screens (two of them IMAX), a food court and a large playground, B-port writes. The mall is being built by the investment company “Dorinda Invest”, a company specializing in building malls all over Russia. Update: People from Tromsø have called and reminded the BarentsObserver that the Jekta shopping mall in Tromsø is also 65,000 m². So the two towns will be competing in having "the world's largest shopping mall north of the Arctic Circle."
Posted 11 December 2012; 2:58:53 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 23 November 2012) -- Although the season is not yet completely over – there are still two Finnish icebreakers in westbound transit from Alaska to Denmark – some remarks on the 2012 season can be made. There has been a tenfold increase in the number of vessels using NSR during the last two years. This season 46 vessels have sailed the route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010. The total cargo transported on the NSR this year is 1 261 545 tons – a 53 percent increase from 2011, when 820 789 tons was shipped on the route. 25 of the vessels sailed NSR eastbound, starting from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk or Baydaratskaya Bay. 21 sailed in a westbound direction, a report from Rosatomflot reads. The report is given to BarentsObserver by the Centre for High North Logistics, an international knowledge hub on Arctic transport and logistics for businesses. Petroleum products constitute the largest cargo group. A total of 894 079 tons of diesel fuel, gas condensate, jet fuel, LNG and other petrol products has been transported on 26 vessels in 2012. 18 of the tankers sailed from west to east, eight in the opposite direction. ... The second largest cargo group was iron ore and coal, which was transported along the route six times. The two Finnish icebreakers Nordica and Fennica will probably be the last vessels to use NSR this season. The vessels are underway from Alaska to Denmark.
Posted 10 December 2012; 10:48:17 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 16 November 2012) -- Ministers from Canada and Norway, along with Arctic Parliamentarians, want the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East back at the Arctic Council. Canadian officials will continue to monitor what happens to the RAIPON, says Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, also the federal minister responsible for the Arctic Council. That comment follows a recent move by Russia’s ministry of Justice to suspend the operations of RAIPON, a move that came under fire at a meeting of the Arctic Council this past week in Haparanda, Sweden. “Our government supports the promotion of basic values—freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Aglukkaq told Nunatsiaq News Nov. 16. Aglukkaq’s statement echoes that of the Nov. 14 statement from senior Arctic officials from the Arctic Council’s eight member nations — including Russia — and from the other five indigenous Arctic organizations which sit as permanent participants on the council. Their statement expressed concern about the suspension and its impact on RAIPON’s absence at the council, asking “the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation to facilitate, as appropriate, the fulfilment of RAIPON’s important role as a permanent participant in the Arctic Council.”
Posted 19 November 2012; 3:25:02 PM. Permalink
(IOL SciTech, 5 October 2012) -- Moscow - A boy living in Russia's remote north has found the well-preserved remains of a 30,000-year-old adult mammoth, according to media reports on Thursday. The discovery was made near a weather station in the eastern Taimyr region, some 3,000 kilometres north-east of Moscow. News reports identified the boy as Yevgeny Salinder, son of a couple working at the Sopkarga polar weather station. Salinder reportedly discovered the animal during a walk. News reports said the remains were that of a male mammoth aged 15 or 16 years, and that its skin, meat, fat hump and organs were extremely well-preserved. According to the Pravda.ru news website, the last time mammoth remains of such quality were discovered in Russia was in 1901. Scientists used axes, picks and a steam-blaster to melt the permafrost in an extraction operation lasting a week, the report said. The mammoth probably died in the summer because it lacked an undercoat and had a large reserve of fat, the report quoted Aleksei Tikhonov, deputy director of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as saying.
Posted 28 October 2012; 12:42:41 PM. Permalink
(Regnum, 8 October 2012) -- As of 5 October, 3,546 educational institutions of a total of 5,440 are connected to district heating (65%). These figures were reported on 8 October by the press service of the Far Eastern envoy after a meeting chaired by the Minister for Development of the Far East - the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Viktor Ishayev. At a meeting called to discuss preparations for winter, it was announced that 1,308 health facilities of 2,452 were connected to district heating (53%). Health care facilities in the Sakhalin (22) and Khabarovsk (278) regions have yet to be connected. 67% of Far East homes are connected to district heating. The envoy called on the authorities to fully provide heat to institutions of education and health care. He also instructed officials to undertake appropriate checks across the districts to identify connection problems and to get them fixed. [this is an edited version of the original]
Posted 14 October 2012; 5:18:29 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 12 October 2012) -- On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended a keel-laying ceremony of the diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 in St. Petersburg. Industry experts say the keel-laying of the new generation icebreaker marks a new stage in Russia’s exploration of the Arctic region. The state-of-the-art diesel-powered icebreaker LK-25 of ice class Icebreaker 8 will replace the old icebreakers, which were built in the 1980s. With the capacity of 25 MW the new icebreaker will be capable of sailing the most difficult conditions of the Kara Sea, in any ice situation. The new ship laid at the Baltic shipbuilding plant of the United Shipbuilding Corporation will be completed in 2017. Currently, Russia is also building other new icebreakers. The ships called Moscow and St. Petersburg were laid down 6 years ago but their capacity is much smaller than that of the LK-25 ship. In terms of capacity the LK-25 project is a milestone. And the largest ever project in the history of Russia’s shipbuilding industry is scheduled for 2013. The LK-60 nuclear icebreaker with the capacity of 60 megawatt will cost almost 40 billion rubles (more than one billion dollars) This vessel will be capable of sailing in the northernmost and easternmost parts of the Arctic region. This means that Russia will be able to solve strategic tasks in any part of the Arctic Ocean. We hear from Igor Ostretsov, the deputy director for science of the All-Russia Research Center of Nuclear Machine-Building. "The Soviet Union was an undisputable leader in building of icebreakers. We always had the advantage in the Arctic region. Now those icebreakers are getting old and we are renewing the fleet. It is very important to secure Russia’s presence in the Arctic areas, which always belonged to us, now when many other countries are eyeing the Arctic region. An icebreaking fleet is the most important tool there." Russia’s neighbors on the Arctic region are continuing to dispute Moscow’s claims on the Arctic shelf, which rich reserves attract even non-Arctic states such as Japan and Malaysia. Russia is continuing to explore the area to define the shelf borders and to apply a new request to the UN. Alongside the renewal of the icebreaking fleet the construction of new research ships is underway. On Wednesday, a new scientific research ship Academic Tryoshnikov was made operational. The industry experts say that in terms of its icebreaking capabilities it is superior to the Academic Fyodorov research ship. With the new research ship of this class Russia will be able to win back the leading position in scientific explorations of the Arctic region, Medvedev said Wednesday.
Posted 12 October 2012; 2:50:55 PM. Permalink
(The Voice of Russia, 2 September 2012) -- Many centuries of studies and exploration of the Arctic territories are filled with multitudes of vivid, large-scale and, at times, dramatic events. The Arctic map is a hymn to man’s spirit. It shows the names of islands, gulfs and mountains that immortalize their discoverers. It is in large part due to Russian explorers that the lands of the North became an adequately studied and accessible part of the globe. Of course, explorers from other countries also studied the Arctic but it rarely became a tradition in a full l sense of this word. Many generations of Russian pioneers and researchers contributed colossal efforts, expertise funds and often their lives to the exploration of the Arctic region. In their quest for the North Pole they discovered new lands, seas, islands and archipelagos. Thanks to Russian explorers mankind learned about the existence of Spitsbergen, Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands, the Chukchi Peninsula, the Kamchatka Peninsula and Alaska. The Russians were the first to prove that Asia and America were separated by a strait. Russian polar navigators purposefully explored Arctic sea and river routes, studied the Arctic Ocean and played a prominent part in charting the Northern Sea Route. Since 1914 Russian airmen have been conquering the airspace above the Arctic.
Posted 21 September 2012; 2:19:56 PM. Permalink
(Russia and India Report, 6 April 2012, running time 26:10) -- The tiny village of Shoina in Russia’s Arctic faces a daily battle against advancing sands, which appeared over 50 years ago and have been covering the land ever since.
Posted 9 May 2012; 2:08:19 PM. Permalink
(PennEnergy, 8 May 2012) -- The black gold rush on the roof of the world accelerated on Saturday. Norway's Statoil ASA (NYSE ADR: STO) signed a massive deal with Russian behemoth Rosneft in a venture that may require more than $100 billion over the next few decades. Specifically, the company aims to help Rosneft develop untapped oil resources in the Arctic, as Moscow struggles to gain a competitive advantage given declining oil production in Siberia. It's the third recent oil partnership for Rosneft. ... In the wake of Russia's slumping reserves and production in Siberia, the Kremlin has been looking for ways to incentivize producers to help Rosneft increase production. Tax breaks have been one way, but companies also want a little bit of insurance when they work with Moscow. Just last month, Exxon and Rosneft agreed to begin finalizing their initial $3.2 billion Arctic deal that would require about $200 billion for joint projects in the next decade alone, and the development of 10 ice-proof platforms for the Kara Sea that would cost about $15 billion each.
Posted 9 May 2012; 12:03:08 PM. Permalink
(Jason Farmer /RedOrbit.com, 24 April 2012) -- Scientists believe they have made the very first sighting of an adult white killer whale, according to various media reports. The adult male was spotted off the coast of Kamchatka in eastern Russia. Scientists have nicknamed the whale Iceberg. The whale appears to be in good health and is living with a normal pod. Occasionally, white whales of other species are seen, but prior to this sighting, the only known white orcas have been young. The sighting of the white whale was made by a group of Russian scientists and students, co-led by Dr Erich Hoyt, a long-time orca researcher. “It has the full two-meter-high dorsal fin of a mature male, which means it’s at least 16 years old – in fact the fin is somewhat ragged, so it might be a bit older,” Hoyt told BBC News reporter Richard Black. Adult male orcas can live up to 50 or 60 years, though 30 years old is more the average.
Posted 24 April 2012; 11:09:29 AM. Permalink
(Reuters, 17 April 2012) -- Russian police detained two dozen Greenpeace activists on Tuesday for protesting against Arctic drilling after Russia's largest oil producer signed a landmark deal with Exxon Mobil Corp to jointly prospect for oil in the far north. A spokeswoman for the environmental group, Vera Bakasheva, said a total of 23 activists were arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally outside Russia's Arctic Oil and Gas Conference in Moscow. "We wanted to give the message to the people at the conference that drilling in the Arctic is dangerous and needs to be stopped," Bakasheva said. The protest was organized after Rosneft and Exxon earlier this week sealed a wide-reaching partnership granting both sides access to each others' reserves. The deal paved the way for both companies to prospect for oil in three areas of Russia's Arctic Kara Sea, estimated by Rosneft to hold 36 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.
Posted 18 April 2012; 4:18:00 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 April 2012) -- Russia is planning to launch a tourism project on the Franz Josef archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev said on Thursday. “We want to use it [the archipelago] for tourism purposes in the very near future,” Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council, said during an international conference dedicated to security and cooperation in the Arctic held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. One of the most remote and rugged Arctic landscapes in the world, Franz Josef Land is located to the north of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a total area of some 16,230 square miles. The islands are almost uninhabited, except for several hamlets built by Russian settlers. Patrushev, along with a group of foreign participants in the conference, visited the archipelago on Wednesday. He said it was the first time foreigners have set foot there. Environmentalists say the move will not damage the unique Arctic ecosystems, as high costs of $15,000-$20,000 per person and a short tourist season lasting from mid-July to mid-September, will serve as a natural limit for the number of visitors. “This is quite a normal occurence. This summer we will organize a similar tour for our supporters with stops at the Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. This would be a predominantly sea cruise with minimum time ashore. Tourists would mainly watch bird colonies or, for example, walrus breeding grounds from the ship,” Mikhail Stishov, a WWF Russia coordinator for Arctic conservation projects, said.
Posted 18 April 2012; 12:57:21 AM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 16 April 2012) -- The daily Izvestiya reports that Russia's border service plans to establish 20 new Arctic border posts. The head of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) border service, Vladimir Pronichev, said the new posts are part of larger plans for the North Sea Route that include nine rescue centers for the Emergency Situations Minister and Ministry of Transportation. Pronichev said the government's program calls for 15-20 border guards to be stationed at each of the locations. Pronichev admitted "at first glance" there seems to be no need for border posts in the remote northern regions of Russia. But he said that in recent years there have been incidents when "foreign tourists" ventured into Russia's northern waters without permission and unprepared for the conditions there and needed rescue. He also said "scientific expeditions" carry out exploration there without official permission. Melting ice and technological improvements have opened new possibilities for developing hydrocarbon deposits in the Arctic, where some believe 25 percent of the world's oil and gas is located. The Izvestiya article also quotes "ice president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems Konstantin Sivkov as saying the approximately 40 "radiolocation" posts set up during Soviet times were all destroyed in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Sivkov reminded that the 20 new border posts will have to monitor a 6,000-kilometer coastline, meaning "each border post will have to control some 300 kilometers" of coastline. Izvestiya reported the new border guards would have training not only in search and rescue, and presumably defending Russia's national borders, but also repair and maintenance of electrical stations, water systems, communications, computer systems for the new posts, and be able "to support" the landing and takeoff of planes.
Posted 16 April 2012; 10:26:12 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 5 April 2012) -- Russia intends to spend around 1.3 trillion rubles ($44 billion) on economic and social projects in the Arctic until 2020, the Russian minister for regional development, Viktor Basargin, said in an interview with the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta published on Thursday. The state budget is expected to provide some 503 billion rubles ($17 billion) to create new transportation corridors in the Arctic, develop new hydrocarbon deposits and social infrastructure, improve living standards of local population, maintain the environment and culture of indigenous peoples, the minister said. Another 724 billion rubles ($24.5 billion) is planned to be taken from regional budgets, he said. Businesses are expected to provide another 80 billion rubles ($2.7 billion). The figures are yet to be confirmed. Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice, providing access to lucrative offshore oil and gas deposits. Russia is planning to deploy a combined-arms force by 2020 to guard its political and economic interests in the Arctic.
Posted 7 April 2012; 10:37:00 AM. Permalink
(RedOrbit, 5 April 2012) -- A young, entombed wooly mammoth has been discovered in Siberia near the Arctic Ocean. Nicknamed “Yuka,” the mammoth has been described by discoverers as being “remarkably well preserved” despite being cut open by ancient people. Yuka was discovered in Siberia during an expedition funded in part by the BBC and the Discovery Channel and is believed to be at least 10,000 years old. The discoverers believe this finding could possibly provide proof of early human interaction in the Siberian region. Yuka remains in excellent condition, thanks to the freezing cold temperatures of Siberia. In fact, much of the meat is still intact, retaining a pink color. Strawberry blond hair covers the mammoth. Daniel Fisher, curator and director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology told Discovery News, “This is the first relatively complete mammoth carcass — that is, a body with soft tissues preserved — to show evidence of human association.” Working with an international team of experts, Fisher will help to analyze Yuka and to retrieve genetic samples from the carcass. The team is also conducted carbon dating on Yuka, but believe the mammoth to have died at least 10,000 years ago. They believe the mammoth to have been about 2 1/2 to 4 years old when it died. Judging from wounds found on the mammoth and other cuts and breaks, the team believe Yuka may have fallen prey to lions before humans came along to finish the job. “It appears that Yuka was pursued by one or more lions or another large field, judging from deep, unhealed scratches in the hide and bite marks on the tail,” Fisher said. “Yuka then apparently fell, breaking one of the lower hind legs. At this point, humans may have moved in to control the carcass, butchering much of the animal and removing parts that they would use immediately. They may, in fact, have reburied the rest of the carcass to keep it in reserve for possible later use. What remains now would then be ‘leftovers’ that were never retrieved.” While most of Yuka’s innards are missing, such as organs, ribs, vertebrae, and some meat, the lower parts of each leg and the trunk remain incredibly well preserved.
Posted 5 April 2012; 4:32:37 PM. Permalink
(Voice of Russia, 28 March 2012) -- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has endorsed projects for a permafrost seedbank in Yakutia and research into the impact of global climate change on Arctic nature in that part of Siberia. Developed by local specialists and presented at the UNESCO Paris headquarters earlier this week, the projects will be part of the UNESCO-sponsored global warming assessment monitoring. Here is what Chairman of Yakutia’s Innovative Policy Committee Dmitry Safonov told reporters: "The UNESCO is preparing a large-scale program it plans to launch in 2013. It will focus on climate change and related scientific aspects such as the degradation of permafrost, the productivity of biosystems and the environmental and even humanitarian components, in other words, the effects of climate change on society, on people inhabiting certain territories." The Arctic is a region where climate change has been the most dramatic, which can best be seen in Yakutia. Degrading permafrost causes a rapid decrease of landmass. A research station will be built on the island of Samoilovsky in the Lena delta, where complex studies in various fields will be carried out, said Dmitry Safonov: "These include natural processes, nature management in the Arctic and the dynamics of the coastal and deep-sea permafrost in the eastern Arctic. In the geological bloc, it’s seismotectonics and paleogeography of Arctic Siberia. And there will also be a humanitarian bloc studying of the cultural and historical heritage. The Arctic boasts many interesting sites telling of famous explorers and expeditions of the great Arctic exploration era." Unlike most of the existing world seedbanks, the future cryo-repository in Yakut permafrost won’t need refrigerators to maintain temperatures at the required level, nor will it need electricity to power the equipment. Even compared to the European Union cryo-repository built on Spitsbergen in natural conditions, it will have significant advantages, says Professor of the Novosibirsk Institute of Cytology and Genetics Nikolai Goncharov. "If temperatures rise 5 degrees, the ice on Spitsbergen will melt and the EU cryo-repository will have to use refrigerators. For this to happen in Yakutia, a 20 degree warming is needed. The thick layer of permafrost is an eternal and ecologically clean system resistant to cataclysms."
Posted 2 April 2012; 4:08:25 PM. Permalink
(Atle Staalesen/BarentsObserver, 30 March 2012) --A bill regulating shipping on the increasingly popular Northern Sea Route might be adopted this spring. Talking at a press conference organized by RIA Novosti this week, a high-ranking representative of the Russian Ministry of Transport said that the new law will regulate interaction between stakeholders and organize issues of communication. “We intend to introduce special shipping regulations for the Northern Sea Route", Vitaly Klyuev said. He maintained that the bill might be adopted by the State Duma in the course of spring 2012. A part of the bill is the establishment of a new Northern Sea Route administration. According to Mr. Klyuev, the Ministry is also starting to upgrade all navigation maps for the route. By year 2015-2016 there will be no more “white spots” on the map, he confirmed at the press conference. He also said that the responsibility for the maps will be handed over from the Ministry of Defence to a non-military structure. The new maps will display depths along the route and consequently improve safety along the route, the ministry official underlined. According to international law, countries can regulate shipping only based on special environmental requirements, as well as in areas, which are covered by ice for more than six months of the year, RIA Novosti reports. Russia has already restricted foreign vessels’ access to several areas along the route, among them in the Kara Gate, the straits connecting the Barents and Kara Seas.
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:44:27 PM. Permalink
(News release via MarineLink.com, 1 April 2012) -- Russia [is] to commission Northern Sea Route hydrographic surveys to identify safe-water routes for large ships. Updated charts of the Northern Sea Route without the 'white spots' will be created in 2015-2016, in addition, the Ministry of Transport is planning to organize this year's transfer of jurisdiction from the Ministry of Defence to FSUE 'Hydrographic Enterprise' or in its own subordinate structure, said the deputy director of the Department of State Policy for Maritime and River Transport of Russia, Vitaly Klyuev. "We will increase the hydrographic work in the Arctic to the year 2015-2016 to get a real picture of the depths for safe navigation," he said at a news conference in RIA Novosti, devoted to the preparation of the Russian exposition at the World exhibition "Expo-2012" to be held from May to August in South Korea. According to Klyuyev, surveying the work in the Arctic will be done in conjunction with SCF and Rosatomflot. 'White spots' (areas without depth data) on the charts will not be covered throughout the whole region, but survey work will be concentrated on the Northern Sea Route in the interests of the safe navigation of ship traffic. According to Director of Non-Profit Partnership for the Coordination of Northern Sea Route Vladimir Mickle, over the past 20 years, soundings in the Arctic have been limited because of a reduction in the hydrographic budget. However, in 2011 funding was restored, and for the first time it was sufficient enough for seven survey ships to work on the route.
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:10:20 PM. Permalink
(Atle Staalesen/BarentsObserver, 23 March 2012) -- The establishment of a national park is a first step of a comprehensive plan to protect the Khibiny mountains, a regional official says. According to Aleksey Smirnov, the territories of a so-called nature park will be defined in the course of 2012. Later, the area will be turned into a national park, the representative of the regional Duma Committee on Industrial Development and Environment says. The status as national park will facilitate the efficient protection of the Khibiny eco-system, Smirnov maintains. As previously reported, the Khibiny mountains are part of the federal protection plans of the Ministry of Natural Resources until year 2020. The establishment of the Khibiny natural park is a key component in the regional nature protection plan, which was adopted in December 2011. The park is to be fully established by 2015, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports. The Khibiny mountains are under increasing pressure both from expanding industrial activities and tourism. While big industrial companies with great appetite look at the hugely rich metal and mineral reserves of the area, the tourism industry attract increasing number of tourists.
Posted 25 March 2012; 9:06:44 PM. Permalink
(BarentsNova, 23 March 2012) -- For the 78th time, Murmansk starts over its traditional sport races. Though not in its prime, the festival is still an attraction for Russian and foreign sportsmen. Friday, at 19:30 on the Five Corners Square, an opening ceremony will officially launch Murmansk traditional competition. At 20:45, fireworks will light up the sky. The city centre will be cleared off from cars. Racing spots are scattered all over the Kola Peninsula: Murmansk, Tuloma, Lovozero, Kirovsk, etc. The string of competitions will wind up with a ski marathon on April 01. The prize fund is around one million roubles that are to be distributed among the winners. The biggest money trophy will go to marathon runners. The sad thing is cancellation of a “Friendship ski-track” marathon that would normally start at Rajakoski and cross borders of Russia, Finland and Norway. First started in 1994, any person who has a pair of skis could join the competition without any passports or visa formalities. 2011 was a record-breaking year in terms of attendance: 3,300 skiers joined the show, however year 2012 did not give much snow and this international tournament had to be cancelled this time (in 2003, it was cancelled on the same grounds). The tradition of the festival was born in 1934 and was never interrupted even by atrocities of World War II.
Posted 25 March 2012; 5:21:53 PM. Permalink
(Jonas Karlsbakk/Barents Observer, 19 March 2012) -- In eight years the number of inhabitants in the Murmansk Region has decreased by 97,000 people. Depopulation due to young people who migrate south is a huge problem for Murmansk region, says Igor Chernyshenko in Murmansk Regional Duma. Today the number of inhabitants in Murmansk Oblast is 795,000 people, which is an 11 percent decline over the last eight years. However, if we look at the population decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the population has dropped from 1.2 million inhabitants in the late 1980s. According to Chernichenko there is nothing that indicate that the situation is about to change. "In the Soviet Union there were a lot of extra benefits for people living in the north. The wages were higher and we had an extra week of holiday. The benefits are now gone and the wages are the same as elsewhere in Russia," says Chernyshenko. With loss of benefits there has been a huge migration southwards, which also is the main reason for the population decline. Of the overall population decline, 84 percent is due to migration. The Murmansk region is also highly urbanized, with 93 percent of the people living in urban areas. Chernyshenko says that of the 795,000 people living in Murmansk Oblast, 243,000 people are senior citizens. The growing population of senior citizens has become a big challenge for Murmansk, as the main groups of people who migrate are young people. "When young people can have the same annual salary in more southern and central parts of Russia, they see no reason to stay in the cold Murmansk climate any more. So they move."
Posted 20 March 2012; 12:10:50 AM. Permalink
(Evgeniya Chaykovskaya/ The Moscow News, 15 March 2012) -- The Russia Academy of Sciences plans to clone a mammoth. The extinct mammal will be cloned by Japanese Kinki University, where scientists have been working on cloning pre-historic animals for 15 years, Interfax reported. The scientists could use Indian elephants as a basis instead of African, because their DNA is the closest to mammoths. The cloning will not be done by notorious South Korean geneticist Hwang Woo-suk, as was previously reported. Hwang Woo-suk was disgraced in the mid-2000s after it was found that he fabricated results of numerous experiments that were later published. Hwang Woo-suk has signed a contract with the North-Eastern Federal University, but only for studying the mammoth, and is unlikely to work on the mammoth cloning, the Siberian branch of science academy announced. The academy of sciences denied that the biological materials for cloning have already been sent abroad, arguing that there were a lot of formalities to take care of first. It will be sent to Kinki University no sooner that autumn. The remains of baby mammoth Yuka were discovered by hunters in the summer of 2010 on the shore of the Laptev Sea in Yakutia, close to Yukagir village (that gave the name to the mammoth). At the moment, the perfectly-preserved remains of the 200-kilogramm animal are stored in a local institute. Two more remains were found next to Yuka – a bison and a horse. The world’s leading palaeontologists examined the remains between Feb. 27 and March 2, and determined the animals’ gender, approximate age, and how long ago they lived. The baby mammoth Yuka was a female, up to 160 cm tall, and was four to five years old. The ancient bison was a four-year-old male, and the horse a five-to-six year old female. The baby mammoth spent 9,000 to 10,000 years in the ground, while the bison and the horse – 3,000 to 4,000. Scientists established that Yuka and the horse were killed by cave lions.
Posted 20 March 2012; 12:02:24 AM. Permalink
(Trude Petersen/BarentsObserver, 27 February 2012) -- During World War II the Soviet Army established the world’s only reindeer transport battalion. More than 1000 reindeer herders and 6000 reindeer were mobilized from Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Karelian Front. In addition to the Nenets, also reindeer herders from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Komi districts were mobilized to the front. During 1944, the Karelian Front participated in the final offensive against Finland which led to the Soviet-Finnish armistice. In October 1944 it conducted the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation, capturing parts of northern Finland and liberating the easternmost parts of Norway from German occupation. The Karelian Front conducted the only successful major military operation ever undertaken in an Arctic environment in modern warfare. Reindeer proved to be very useful in Arctic operations. One reindeer can pull up to 50 kg on a sledge behind it. They transported not only food and ammunition, they also carried urgent orders to officers and they carried mail, wounded soldiers and pilots from downed aircrafts back to their lines. The reindeer were even successfully used to pull downed aircrafts back to sites and units where they could be repaired. Read more about ethnic minorities and warfare at the Arctic front 1939-1945 here.
Posted 27 February 2012; 10:53:40 PM. Permalink
(The Financial, 9 February 2012) -- The EBRD will provide up to 3 billion roubles (€75 million) to modernise and increase the energy efficiency of district heating systems in a permafrost area of Far East Russia where the heating season lasts 10 months a year and winter temperatures drop to -50 degrees centigrade for extended periods. According to The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the proceeds of the Bank’s 16-year loan will fund a capital investment programme in a number of northern settlements in the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia. This vast territory in Eastern Siberia is almost as big as India but has a population of less than one million. The cost of heating services per square metre in Yakutia is the highest in Russia. Fuel and transport account for 75 per cent of such operational costs. There is, therefore, a large potential for savings, particularly if coal and gas can substitute expensive sea-borne fuel supplies. The loan will finance the replacement of both heat-generating facilities and heat-distribution systems in the ports of Tiksi and Cherskyi. ... The two ports targeted by this loan provide a lifeline for remote inland communities, storing supplies that are shipped by sea during the summer for onward transportation into the interior along frozen roads once winter sets in. Due to the permafrost, no roads exist for the rest of the year.
Posted 9 February 2012; 3:49:20 PM. Permalink
(TASS via Voice of Russia, 6 February 2012) -- The first nations of the Russian Arctic are to celebrate the first annual International Day of Cold on February 28 and 29. The events will be centred on the port city of Arkhangelsk on the coast of the White Sea. The organizers say they want to attract public attention to problems and opportunities in the Russian Arctic.
Posted 6 February 2012; 2:55:58 PM. Permalink
(Vladivostok Air press release, 4 January 2012) -- Vladivostok Air is proud to announce the resumption of seasonal service between Anchorage, Alaska, and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, this coming summer. This weekly service will run from July 12 to September 13, 2012, with departures on Thursdays. Flights arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the morning, allowing for fishermen to get to their rivers the day of arrival and for transit travelers to make connections to other Russian cities. See full details on our Kamchatka page. Commencing late February, 2012, tickets for these flights will go on sale via all major ticketing reservations systems, and may be booked through any quality travel agent. Vladivostok Air is also working with travel partner Kamchatintour in Russia and US travel agents to create exciting travel packages to Kamchatka. Business travel services will also be offered. FAM trips for North American trip operators are also being coordinated. Details will be available soon.
Posted 26 January 2012; 6:27:09 PM. Permalink
(TASS via Voice of Russia, 20 January 2012) -- A tourist zone will be created on the premises of the Russian Arctic National Park in the north of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and on the islands of Franz Josef Land. According to local officials, the construction of helicopter pads and harbors to receive cruise vessels will begin this summer. Former polar stations and deserted military bases will be transformed into tourist centers and virgin territories will be open only for research. The Russian Arctic, the northernmost nature reserve in Eurasia, is home to the biggest colonies of birds and rookeries in the Northern Hemisphere. It is populated by polar bears, Greenland whales, white seagulls and other Red Book species.
Posted 24 January 2012; 1:50:24 PM. Permalink
(Barents Nova, 23 January 2012) -- Supply tenders are announced for the Russian Optical Trans Arctic Submarine Cable System (ROTACS) telecommunication project intended to connect Europe and Asia via Murmansk. ROTACS will connect Europe and Asia via the shortest possible geographical route across the Arctic, opening a new chapter in the history of global submarine telecommunications, says Polarnet, the project operator. At the first stage of the project implementation, 6 fibre pairs of an undersea 17,000 km-long cable system will link England, Japan, China and Russia through cable stations in the cities of Bude (England), Tokyo (Japan), and Russia's Murmansk, Vladivostok, and Anadyr. The estimated cost of this phase will be $860 million. At the second stage, for the price of $500 million there will be installed cable branches to connect the undersea-based trunk line with Russian telecom providers based on the shore. Stage 3 will need other $500 million to install an onshore line closing the circle of cables through the central part of Russia. The last stage will be backed up by Rosneft. Overall costs come up to $2 billion. ROTACS is the first system to be built along the trans-Arctic geographic route. In mid-October 2011, the Russian Governmental Commission for Federal Communications and Information Technology granted its approval of the project. The ROTACS project will start in Q2 this year and is optimistically scheduled to finish in 2014. Meanwhile, a Canadian Arctic Fibre Inc., is developing a 15,600 km submarine cable which is to provide a low latency route between Northern China and Japan to Northern Europe through Canada 's North West Passage.
Posted 24 January 2012; 12:54:07 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 4 January 2012) -- Russia plans to continue its large-scaled clean-up of Arctic islands in 2012. As much as 18 000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped out through the Nenets port of Amderma. Russia wants to clean up the environmental mess on its Arctic Islands and has allocated hundreds of millions of rubles for the work over the coming years. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment plans to continue reversing accumulated environmental damage in the Arctic. In 2012 Russia will focus on cleaning up polluted areas on Svalbard and Amderma. Between 12,000 and 18,000 tons of scrap metal will be shipped from the port of Amderma, Deputy Minister Rinat Gizatullin said according to the Nenets paper Nyaryana Vynder. Amderma is planned to become a key site in the development of offshore oil and gas fields in the western part of the Russian Arctic and an important base for traffic along the Northern Sea Route. According to preliminary estimates, the total polluted area around Amderma exceeds 82 square kilometers and the local scrap stockpiles may amount to more than 114 000 tons. The Arctic clean-up started in 2011, when the research vessel Mikhail Somov transported more than 1800 empty fuel barrels collected on the Wrangel Island and on Franz Josef Land to Arkhangelsk. According to the Russian information and analytical portal Arctic Universe, there are still some 250,000 barrels holding some 40 to 60,000 tons of oil products on Franz Josef Land. Also, some additional one million empty barrels are dumped near the now closed down bases. Other kinds of waste include abounded [sic] aircrafts, rusty broken radar stations, different kind of Arctic vehicles and other leftover garbage. The Russian government has allocated 740 million rubles to Arctic environmental cleanup in 2011 and 2012.
Posted 5 January 2012; 10:38:12 AM. Permalink
(Mary Pemberton/Anchorage Daily News, 1 January 2012) -- A Russian tanker's mission to deliver petroleum products to an iced-in Alaska city cleared a large hurdle when a waiver was granted allowing the loading of hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline at a port in the Aleutian Islands. The 370-foot tanker is due to arrive in the fishing port of Dutch Harbor at 6 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said Sunday. The waiver of the federal Jones Act granted Friday was crucial to the tanker completing its mission of delivering petroleum products to Nome, a city of about 3,500 residents on Alaska's western coastline. A huge storm this fall delayed delivery by barge and by the time the weather had improved Nome was iced-in. There are a variety of petroleum products on hand in Nome, but it doesn't have enough gasoline and diesel fuel to last until spring. The
Posted 2 January 2012; 1:16:03 PM. Permalink
(IA Regnum News, 31 December 2011) -- As of 31 December 2011, more than 48.5 thousand residents of the Yamal, more than half of them senior citizens, have expressed their desire to travel outside the autonomous regions, according to the press service of the governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. The rehousing program has been funded in part by the federal targeted program "Housing" and by the regional target program "Cooperation." However, the funds are clearly insufficient. The numbers of people wanting to move from the Far North is much greater. Therefore, beginning in 2012 funds will be sent to the county annually. Currently, work is underway in the Tuymen district on 14 blocks of flats to house more than 2.5 thousand "yamaltsev," who have decided to leave the Far North.
Posted 31 December 2011; 1:17:06 PM. Permalink
(IA Regnum, 31 December 2011) -- Duma of Khanty-Mansiysk approved "Strategy of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk 2020." The strategy's 329 pages containing 9 main analytical chapters and 7 annexes, according to the press service of the Administration of Khanty-Mansiysk. Sections of the strategy include an assessment of the existing state of the city's economy, demographics, workforce, quality of life of the population of the Khanty-Mansiysk, financial and public sector, the market of consumer services, the city's infrastructure, manufacturing, state of the environment, public safety and give a forecast for each aspect. The strategy provides a comparative analysis of competitive advantages and disadvantages of the municipality in relation to other areas of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra, describes problems, and gives an assessment of existing capacity and competitiveness of the economy of the city. It also contains a section that provides an assessment of current measures of municipal authorities to improve the socio-economic status of the population of the city, as well as evaluation of the implementation on the territory of the federal, regional, municipal and industrial programs of social and economic development. The strategy contains a number of scenarios (options) for development: Inertia, Innovation, and Intermediate (moderately optimistic). The document also reflects the long-term priorities and goals for their implementation in the chosen scenario. The final section devoted to a detailed description of the mechanisms for implementing the strategy. The development strategy of the Khanty-Mansiysk is linked to a number of strategic policy documents of the regional and federal level: the concept of long-term socio-economic development of the Russian Federation to 2020, the concept of socio-economic development of regions of the Russian Federation, as well as of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region in 2020 and plan for development and distribution of productive forces Ugra for 2006-2015. and 2020. The main instruments for implementing the strategy at the municipal level will be operating in the program of socio-economic development of the Khanty-Mansiysk. Note the capital of Yugra in the city today there are 34 programs.
Posted 31 December 2011; 1:01:39 PM. Permalink
(redOrbit, 18 December 2011) --More than a hundred Beluga whales are trapped in frigid water surrounded by ice floes in the Chukotka region of Russia’s Far East, and risk death unless they are rescued soon, local authorities said. The flock of gentle whales was trapped in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynnot, a statement from the Chukotka Autonomous Region said, with local governor Roman Kopin calling for the government to send an icebreaker to the region to try and free them from their soon-to-be icy graveyard. Local fishermen reported that the whales were concentrated in two relatively small ice holes, where they can at least breathe freely for the time being. But the odds of them being able to swim back out to open water are slim due to the vast fields of ice over the strait. The statement said the whales risk becoming starved if they cannot be rescued soon. And with the advancement of the ice floes, the space where they are concentrated is growing smaller and smaller. “Given the lack of food and the speed at which the water is freezing, all the animals are threatened with exhaustion and death,” it added. A Russian icebreaker was just two days sail away from the area, the Chukotka government noted. It could easily make the trip in time to save the whales, it added. ... Besides having little or no food, and the rapid advancement of ice, the Belugas are at risk of attack from hungry polar bears or killer whales in the region as well. Trapped Belugas are a frequent problem in Arctic waters but are not often detected by people. The last relatively successful case of a Beluga rescue came in 1986, when an icebreaker was deployed to help free them.
Posted 19 December 2011; 11:55:42 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 19 December 2011) -- Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing of the oil jack-up rig ”Kolskaya” that overturned and sank in the Sea of Okhotsk yesterday. With the break of day, search for survivors and dead after the accident outside the island of Sakhalin continued. 14 dead have so far been found, the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport's web site reads. The rig sank in course of only 20 minutes, Murmansk Oblast Governor Dmitry Dmitriyenko told RIA Novosti. 32 of the 67 people aboard came from the Murmansk region. 14 persons were found alive after the accident and picked up by boats taking part in the rescue operation. All the 14 survivors were on duty on deck during the towing and were wearing survival suits and life-jackets. ... Russian media is now asking why the whole crew stayed onboard during the towing, and why towing was conducted at all in such bad weather. A source in the Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport says to Kommersant that half of the people onboard had nothing to do with the towing operation – they were drilling operators, crane operators and others. – The number of casualties did not have to be that high, the source says. According to Russian instructions for safety at sea, only a required minimum of personnel should be onboard a vessel that is being towed. The Russian Agency for Transport Supervision has started investigation of the accident. The weather in the area is bad, with wind of 10 m/s, waves of 2 meters and temperature of -2°C. The water temperature is 1°C.
Posted 19 December 2011; 10:36:35 AM. Permalink
(Mia Bennett/Eye on the Arctic via Alaska Dispatch, 15 December 2011) -- Off the east coast of the Russian Chukotka peninsula, winter has come hard and fast, freezing parts of the Bering Strait. Fifteen miles south of the village of Yanrakynnot in the Sinyavinsky Strait, 100 beluga whales are trapped in the ice. Hunters have reported that they are in two polynyas and are currently able to breathe freely. However, food and clean water will soon run out, and the whales will likely die of exhaustion or starvation if the ice is not soon broken up. Roman Kopin, governor of Chukotka, has written letters to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Emergency Situations requesting an icebreaker to aid the beluga whales. He suggested the marine rescue boat Ruby as a possible source of salvation for the whales. The icebreaker is a couple of days away, busy helping the Korean cargo ship Oriental Angel, which has run aground on the Gulf of Anadyr. All of its 90 crew members managed to escape on inflatable boats, but there are still 1,100 gallons of flammable liquid onboard the ship. Meanwhile, Chukotka authorities are busy trying to find out how far away the nearest source of clean water is from the whales.
Posted 16 December 2011; 3:00:01 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/CP via Globe and Mail, 6 December 2011) -- Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage. Those charts, which may offer the first documentary proof of the widely held belief that Soviet nuclear submarines routinely patrolled the Canadian Arctic during the Cold War, are still in use by Russian vessels. In some places, they are preferred to current Canadian charts. “In some cases the Russian charts are more detailed than the Canadian ones and the navigators have them out on the chart table beside the Canadian ones in order to cross-reference any questionable soundings,” said Aaron Lawton of One Ocean Expeditions, an adventure tourism company that charters the Russian-owned ship Academik Ioffe for Arctic cruises. “I have travelled on the Ioffe in the Canadian Arctic for (many) seasons and have generally found that the vessel has always cross-referenced the Russian charts,” Mr. Lawton said in an e-mail from on board the Ioffe off the Antarctic coast. The Ioffe is owned by the Moscow-based P.P. Shirsov Institute of Oceanography. Vladimir Tereschenkov, head of marine operations, said the Russian charts were published by the Russian Hydrographic Service. The sections seen by The Canadian Press are photographs of charts in current use on the Ioffe. Compiled from information gleaned over the years up to 1970, they are clearly marked with Soviet insignia, including the red star and the hammer and sickle. Both sections are of highly strategic Arctic waterways. ... Both sections of the charts contain many more depth soundings than corresponding modern Canadian charts. ...the only way the Soviet government could have acquired data for the charts is from nuclear submarines secretly patrolling the Arctic. “It confirms what many of us assumed,” said Mr. Byers. “The Soviet navy was extremely capable and also was willing to take considerable risk. Sending submarines into the Canadian archipelago, which was heavily monitored by NATO, thousands of miles away from Soviet assistance, was a perilous thing to do. It was a phenomenal accomplishment.” Mr. Byers said the charts are the first public proof he’s seen of that theory. They suggest that the capabilities of the Soviet navy portrayed in movies may not be entirely fiction.
Posted 7 December 2011; 11:34:46 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 23 November 2011) -- Russia and Canada are talking about a revival of the Arctic Bridge – a sea route connecting Murmansk and Churchill. The Arctic Bridge is a seasonal sea route linking Murmansk in Northern Russia with Churchill in Hudson Bay, Canada. Now, the route is only easily navigable about four months of the year, but it will become more and more viable as the climate warms. Both Canada and Russia will benefit from using the Arctic Brigde, said Jeff McEachern from Port of Churchill at a forum in Krasnoyarsk on Siberia and the Arctic, m51 writes, citing RIA Novosti. Russia will get easier access to Northern American markets, while Canada can use the Northen Sea Route from Murmansk to Asia. The concept of an "Arctic Bridge", with a hub in Churchill, was proposed by Canadians in the early 1990s. A protocol of intent on the establishment of a seaways trade route between Murmansk Oblast and the Province of Manitoba was signed in 2002. The first shipment on the Arctic Bridge was conducted in October 2007, when the Murmansk Shipping Company’s vessel Kapitan Sviridov transported nitrogen fertilizers to Churchill, BarentsObserver then reported.
Posted 23 November 2011; 11:46:12 PM. Permalink
(John Bonar/BSR, 16 November 2011) -- President Medvedev participated on November 15th, along with Russian Railways (RZD) president, Vladimir Yakunin in the laying of the final link in the Berkalit-Tommot-Nizhny Bestyakh railway which connects Yakutia to Russia’s mainline railways the BAM and Trans Siberian. The construction was first planned in 1985. President Medvedev congratulated everyone who took part in the construction of the line, stressing that the work was carried out in permafrost and the difficult conditions of the Russian North. The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) is the largest subject of the Russian Federation being only slightly smaller than India in land territory and is rich in natural resources. By 2030 further development of rail infrastructure in Yakutia and the Magadan region envisages the construction of a strategic railway line from Nizhny Bestyakh to Magadan. In the longer term, it is also planned to integrate the Chukotka and Kamchatka regions of Russia’s northeast into the country’s railway network. The immediate next stage is to construct a combined road and rail bridge over the Lena river to connect the line to Yakutsk, the capital of the autonomous Republic. With a link now established between Sakha (Yakutia) and the Russian network to handle the increasing volume of rail freight, the rapid development of the BAM and Trans-Siberian has become even more urgent, RZD has said. As part of its own investment programme, Russian Railways is continuing to upgrade the rail network in stages, including the infrastructure of the Baikal-Amur Main Line, in order to handle the future volumes of freight traffic forecast with the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
Posted 16 November 2011; 11:15:21 PM. Permalink
(Reuters via Arabian Business, 13 November 2011) -- Qatar is in negotiations to take a stake in an Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) project under development by number-two Russian gas producer Novatek, Qatar's energy minister said on Sunday. The Yamal project will develop the South Tambey field located in the Arctic area of the Yamal peninsula. "Qatar is very much interested in investment generally in oil, gas and petrochemicals. Yamal is an important project and we are really interested in participating in its development," the minister, Mohammed al-Sada, told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Sunday. "We are in active discussions and negotiations with our partners," Sada said. Resources from the condensate and gas field are expected to produce 5 million tonnes of LNG per year when production starts in 2016 and reach 15 million tonnes per year in 2018.
Posted 14 November 2011; 4:16:52 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 14 November 2011) -- At a recent meeting in Umeå, Sweden, the Ministers of Environment of the Barents member countries could cross out three of a total of 42 official “hot spots” in the Barents Region. The Barents region has three environmental hot spots less to worry about. Those are 2,3 tons of DDT in Karelia, 40 tons of obsolete pesticides in Arkhangelsk, and mercury containing wastes in Murmansk. In spite of the fact that these three are definitely some of the "easier" hot spots, this is regarded as significant step forward since the time line for finding solutions to the majority of the 42 hot spots will be exceeded. According to a ministerial agreement in 2003, the intention was that this should take no longer than 10 years. In practical terms this means that many of the more severe hot spots are still far from being taken off the list. That is doubtlessly the case of the most intensively debated by them all: Pechenga-Nickel, a press release from the Working Group on Environment reads. The process is complicated due to the diversification of contamination, sometimes to the lack of ownership as hot spots go back to Soviet times, and sometimes to the huge economic interests - such as in the Pechenga-Nickel case. In this light, the three solved hot spots are important regardless of their "easiness" as detailed procedures have been established for how to meet the requirement before any hot spot can be taken off the list. The driving force has for the last two years been the Swedish Ministry of Environment and Authority of Nature Protection in close cooperation with NEFCO and the Russian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Posted 14 November 2011; 4:03:20 PM. Permalink
(Vladimir Isachenkov/AP via Toronto Star, 11 November 2011) -- MOSCOW—President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia must invest more in the Arctic amid tough competition from other nations for the region's mineral riches. Medvedev said in televised remarks to workers in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk that Russia will take the necessary security steps and other moves to protect its interests in the polar region. "We simply must continue our research of the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic in general, because if we fail to do that other countries will take control," Medvedev said. "It's our shores, and it's our sea." "We will defend our interests in the region, naturally including security issues," he added.
Posted 14 November 2011; 3:55:18 PM. Permalink
(Vladimir Isachenkov/AP via Yahoo! News, 11 November 2011) -- President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia must invest more in the Arctic amid tough competition from other nations for the region's mineral riches. Medvedev said in televised remarks to workers in the fareastern city of Khabarovsk that Russia will take the necessary security steps and other moves to protect its interests in the polar region. "We simply must continue our research of the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic in general, because if we fail to do that other countries will take control," Medvedev said. "It's our shores, and it's our sea." "We will defend our interests in the region, naturally including security issues," he added. Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas. With shrinking polar ice opening up new opportunities for exploration, Russia, Canada and Denmark have said they would file claims with the United Nations that an undersea 1,240-mile (2,000-kilometer) mountain range that crosses the polar region called the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of their respective territories.
Posted 13 November 2011; 11:22:50 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 4 November 2011) -- The world's northernmost railway line will be taken further. The line, which was built by Gazprom as supply line to the huge Bovanenkovo gas field, will be taken further north to Kharasevey, regional Governor Dmitry Kobylkin confirms to journalists. Regional authorities and Gazprom have already agreed about formalities with the project, Oilru.com reports. As previously reported, the Bovanenkovo railway was officially opened early 2011. The 572-km-long connection ends up in the station of Obskaya, where it joins ends with the national Russian railway grid. The gas-rich Yamal Peninsula is top priority for Gazprom, which is now investing big sums in regional field development. The 4.9 trillion cubic meter Bovanenkovo field is due to come into production in 2012, after which several more regional fields are in line. Among them is the Kharasaveyskoye, another huge field, located not far north of the Bovanenkovo. Unlike other Russian railway lines, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line is owned by Gazprom. As previously reported, the Russian Railways have been invited to take over the line, but has shown little interest. In addition to railway and field development in Yamal, Gazprom is also investing in the laying of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline.
Posted 11 November 2011; 11:20:53 PM. Permalink
(Anna Kireeva/Bellona, 4 November 2011) -- Last week’s joint seminar that Bellona and Norilsk Nickel’s Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (Kola MMC) held in Russia’s Zapolyarny, seeking ways to collaborate on curbing cross-border pollution, has brought the two sides on the same page, encouraging further cooperation. “We are happy to see that Kola MMC is ready for a constructive dialogue. We had an interesting seminar, and the heated debates during discussions served to underscore once again the importance of the topic at hand,” Bellona-Murmansk’s chairman of the board Andrei Zolotkov said after the seminar. Last week, Bellona and Kola MMC sat down together in the Russian town of Zapolyarny, on the Kola Peninsula, to discuss the serious environmental problems surrounding the Russian smelting giant Norilsk Nickel’s metal works on the peninsula and the effect the company’s environmental pollution has across the border in Norway. Bellona and Kola MMC were joined at the seminar by municipal authorities from Pechenga Region of the Kola Peninsula and those of the northern Norwegian county of Finnmark, as well as scientists and researchers. At the seminar, Bellona’s representatives made sure to emphasise that the environmentalists’ goal was not to demand that Kola MMC close down its operations – but that it ensure a significant reduction in harmful emissions produced by its enterprises. “Norilsk Nickel’s products are needed all over the world. The metals they produce are needed, among other things, for the development of clean energy technologies and renewable energy sources,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “But the company must reduce its sulphur dioxide emissions dramatically. Today’s emission levels are unacceptable.”
Posted 8 November 2011; 1:03:20 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 1 November 2011) -- Russia’s Arctic territories will become a separate object of state policy. A federal law on this subject is expected to be prepared in 2012. "The place and role of the northern territories in the country’s socio-economic development pre-determine the need to single out the Arctic zone as a separate object of state policy," a draft concept of the law reads, according to RIA Novosti. The draft concept has been prepared by the Ministry of Regional Development and has been handed over to the Government for approval. The final law will be prepared in 2012 as part of Russia’s state program for economic and social development of the Russian Arctic in 2012-2020. The authors of the draft believe that development of the Arctic zone should be a top national priority, like development of Siberia used to be: "The Arctic is a veritable storeroom of natural resources – 27 million square kilometers of the Continental Shelf where 70-75 percent of the mineral and biological resources of the world’s oceans and seas might be concentrated." The Russian Arctic zone includes the entire Murmansk Region, the Nenets, Yamal-Nenets and Chukotka Autonomous Areas, as well as some parts of Karelia, the Komi Republic, Yakutia, the Arkhangelsk Region and the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The Arctic zone’s territory also includes coastal lowlands of the Arctic Ocean, basins of rivers flowing into the Arctic seas, indivisible administrative-territorial entities, as well as major resource-production complexes being serviced by the Northern Sea Route.
Posted 8 November 2011; 12:34:24 AM. Permalink
(Malte Humpert/Arctic Institute, Center for Circumpolar Security Studies, 28 October 2011) -- Plans for the construction of an enclosed ultra-modern city on the New Siberian Island group are taking shape. The Arctic city of Umka, to be located a mere 1,000 miles from the North Pole, will house up to 5,000 residents, primarily soldiers, border guards, scientists, and oil and gas industry workers. The costs of the project are estimated at between $6.4 - $8 billion. According to the architects Umka will be a "fully functioning city and research facility, complete with its own self-sufficient food production, a near-zero waste handling system." The settlement will be modeled after a fictional Moon city or an isolated space station and will allow researchers to live in the region for longer periods of time rather than for short expeditions. The residents will be completely isolated from the harsh environment and live under a vast climate-controlled dome 1.2 kilometers long and 800 meter wide. The now-released designs bear resemblance to the Biosphere 2 project constructed in Oracle, Arizona between 1987 and 1991. This artificial, materially closed ecosystem was used to study the possible use of closed biospheres in, e.g., space colonization.
Posted 31 October 2011; 12:33:16 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 17 October 2011) -- A Trans-Arctic fiber optic line connecting Tokyo and London is planned to go through Murmansk. The Russian company Polarnet Project plans the construction of a Russian trans-Arctic cable line, Rotax, with the cost of nearly $2 billion. The Governmental Commission for Federal Communications and Technological Issues approved the project last Friday. The 17,000 kilometer submerged line is planned to extend from Russia’s Arctic to Pacific coast, with an expected capacity of 9.6 terabits per second, Interfax reports. The project is planned to be implemented in three steps. The first stage implies the laying of a cable line in the Russian economic zone of the Arctic and Pacific Oceans from Bude (the UK) to Tokyo via Murmansk, Anadyr and Vladivostok. The first stage cost is preliminary estimated at $860 million. The second stage implies the laying of cable line extensions to the coast of the Russian Arctic and Far East territories and has the cost of $500 million. The third stage will lay the land segment of the cable line as an element of the national optical fiber network in the strategic partnership with Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft. It will cost $500 million.
Posted 21 October 2011; 12:21:02 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti via Voice of Russia, 12 October 2011) -- Russia and Norway have agreed to coordinate measures preventing violations of the Spitsbergen archipelago status, stated Russia’s FM Ministry Sergei Lavrov at the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Sweden’s Kiruna. Earlier, on October 6, Lavrov expressed concerns over frequent arrests of Russian vessels off the island in a phone talk with his Norway’s counterpart Jonas Støre. He urged Oslo for cooperation within the 1920 treaty which puts Spitsbergen under Norwegian jurisdiction but allows Russia to do business and research in the area.
Posted 21 October 2011; 12:14:08 PM. Permalink
(Olga Denisova/Voice of Russia, 10 October 2011) -- Russia has launched a cleaning up operation in its Arctic region. A programme to revive Franz Josef Land is being worked out following an expedition to the archipelago. Moreover, Russia will allocate 10 million Euros to the Arctic Council for supporting cleaning up projects in the Polar Region in 2011-2013. Franz Josef Land is one of the key Arctic territories that need urgent ecological support for cleaning up hazardous waste. Earlier, there were a military base and a hydro-meteorological station, but at present the territory is a huge garbage dump site. Semi-destroyed warehouses, hangers, machines and equipment and about 400,000 barrels of oil products remind of active life that existed in the 60s and 70s. The barrels will be removed first because some of them have rusted and oil has been leaking into the soil. Further destruction of containers poses a serious and chronic threat to the environment. After a geological and ecological survey, a complete list of pollutants and locations of polluted territories and their floor spaces have been prepared. New information as well as the results of previous expeditions will help to work out a programme on the ecological revival of the islands, says an official of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Olga Burkanova: “The removal of the sources of pollution will be carried out first and foremost in 2012-2013. Moreover, other projects will be simultaneously implemented to clean up the polluted territories on Wrangel Island in the Chukotka Autonomous region and also in the Nenets Autonomous region. It’s planned to dispose about 27,000 tons of scrap metal in the next two years. The Russian government will spend about 50 million U.S. dollars to clean up ecologically hazardous waste from Franz Josef Land in the coming two years.
Posted 11 October 2011; 3:29:54 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti via Arctic.ru, 4 October 2011) -- On September 28, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decree No. 1256 lifting the ban on the privatization of the nuclear icebreaker fleet. The decree is posted on the Kremlin website that lists regulatory documents and executive orders. The decree amends the state privatization program listing federally owned facilities and enterprises that cannot be privatized. Now it is possible to privatize the nuclear icebreaker fleet and its coastal maintenance infrastructure. An industry source told RIA Novosti that the decree will help turn nuclear icebreaker operator Rosatomflot into a shareholding company with 100% public capital. As before, the company is to be managed by the Rosatom Nuclear Energy State Corporation, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear industry. In all, ten nuclear-powered vessels, including nine icebreakers and the lighter aboard ship (LASH) Sevmorput, have been built in Russia throughout the entire history of the icebreaker fleet’s operation. Three nuclear-powered icebreakers, including the world’s first nuclear icebreaker Lenin, whose keel was laid in 1956, the Sibir and the Arktika, have been decommissioned to date.
Posted 6 October 2011; 5:08:53 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti/Arctic.ru, 4 October 2011) -- Russia signed an agreement on Tuesday on international funding for co-financing nature conservation projects operating under the Arctic Council. The agreement was signed by Russia's Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev and Managing Director of Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) Magnus Rystedt. This agreement started the work of the first international fund for co-financing nature conservation projects operating under the Arctic Council. The aim of the fund, the Project Support Instrument (PSI), is to finance Arctic Council member states helping to protect the Arctic environment. Russia was the first Arctic Council member state to accept the new instrument. "The thing is not in money. The most important thing for us is that we have the same aims. We would like the Arctic to be environmentally clean", Trutnev said at the signing ceremony. The fund will finance projects aimed at eliminating 194 ecologically damaged "hot spots" in Russia, according to Trutnev. "The PSI fund is not the first mutual project that we have with Russia although it should be a powerful impetus for further cooperation", Rystedt said.
Posted 6 October 2011; 5:06:21 PM. Permalink
(Brian Kemp/CBC News, 23 September 2011) -- Just days after Gen. Walt Natynczyk, Canada's chief of defence staff, left Moscow after meeting his counterpart last weekend, a Russian official announced that the country would be increasing its Arctic military presence, a move that could increase tensions in the resource-rich area. Anton Vasilev, a special ambassador for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted this week by the Interfax news agency as saying his country would be beefing up its presence in the Arctic, and that NATO was not welcome there. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was in Iceland this week meeting with the country's leaders, with the Arctic being at the top of the agenda, local media reported. Putin, according to the Moscow Times, then announced that Russia would be ordering three nuclear and six diesel icebreakers to be delivered by 2020, with the goal of expanding transportation in the Arctic. In July, Russia said it would create two specialist brigades to be based in the Arctic. It's not known if the latest announcement is tied to that declaration or if additional forces will be moved to the region. A brigade can typically contain up to a thousand soldiers. The Canadian military said in a news release that the purpose of Natynczyk's three-day visit to Moscow last weekend was "to gain the Russian perspective on a range of issues to improve and develop Canada's bilateral military relationship with Russia."
Posted 4 October 2011; 11:54:08 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 24 August 2011) -- Thousands of people are moving away from the Russian part of the Barents Region. Population decline with 13.4 thousand in the first half of 2011. ¾ of this amount is a result of negative migration outside the region. Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk oblast show the worst results in this dynamic, but also Republic of Karelia and Murmansk oblast have negative figures. Murmansk oblast lost 1886 people due to negative migration and Karelia showed only minus 262. The highest negative migration balance has Komi Republic – minus 4153 for the first six months of 2011. Arkhangelsk oblast lost 3824 of people due to negative migration processes in the same period. Murmansk oblast also experience negative migration. Over 14 thousand moved out of the region this year, while 12.3 thousand people moved in. Totally the Barents Russian regions (Arkhangelsk and Murmansk oblasts, Komi and Karelia republics) lost over 440 thousand of population during the last ten years. Population of Komi Republic decreased by 11.7%, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts – by 11%, Karelia – by 10%, according to the figures by Russia’s Federal Statistics.
Posted 29 August 2011; 1:51:22 PM. Permalink
(Alissa de Carbonnel/Reuters, 19 August 2011) - A reindeer herder in Russia's Arctic has stumbled on the pre-historic remains of a baby woolly mammoth poking out of the permafrost, local officials said on Friday. The herder said the carcass was as perfectly preserved as the 40,000-year-old mammoth calf Lyuba discovered in the same remote region four years ago, authorities said, adding that an expedition had set off hoping to confirm the "sensational" find. "If it is true what is said about how it is preserved, this will be another sensation of global significance," expedition leader Natalia Fyodorova said in a statement on the Arctic Yamalo-Nenetsk region's official website. Scientists planned to fly the mammoth's remains to the regional capital Salekhard, where it would be stored in a cooler to prevent the remains from decomposing. Giant woolly mammoths have been extinct since the Earth's last Ice Age 1.8 million to around 11,500 years ago. Scientists worldwide were stunned by the discovery of Lyuba, named after the wife of the hunter who discovered her. Arctic ice kept the extinct specimen so immaculately preserved that although her shaggy coat was gone, her skin and internal organs were intact.
Posted 26 August 2011; 1:09:02 PM. Permalink
In light of solemn accolade to move Northern Sea Route administration to Arkhangelsk, the region is planning a construction of a deep-water sea port of 28 mln tons cargo capacity. Arkhangelsk is reporting the plans to construct a deep-water sea port in Sukhoye More bay of the White Sea. The new port is believed to become a crucial link in logistics system and to develop Russia's foreign trade transportation. The port will also contribute to development of Northern Sea Route, say Arkhangelsk authorities. These days, the official public gathered up in Arkhangelsk to praise the idea of entitling the region with a status of the capital of Northern Sea Route. "We have an ice-breakers fleet, and we can deliver a vessel to any place in the Arctic area," said Artur Chilingarov, a Russian polar explorer. There needs to be a proper base point; and I think the capital of Northern Sea Route should be Arkhangelsk again. The city has all possibilities for that. Boris Gryzlov, the chairman of Russian State Duma and the mainstream political party — the United Russia — was also there to support this idea: "When we were considering a revival of the Northen Sea Route, we were connecting it with Arkhangelsk. ... Arkhangelsk is definitely the place where Arctic exploration will start from." Noteworthy, the United Russia puts the development of the Northern Sea Route on the priority projects list of the political party, while some experts believe that speculations about the port construction is nothing but pre-election campaign of the party that presently faces a rating plummet down to 46%. There are no calculations or deadlines available to public for the deep-water port construction; few media sources reported 2011 to be the start for construction works, however the information is not confirmed.
Posted 10 August 2011; 4:47:56 PM. Permalink
(Mike Blanchfield/The Canadian Press via Winnipeg Free Press, 9 August 2011) -- OTTAWA - It took a major Arctic military exercise to help thaw old Cold War suspicions between Canada, the U.S. and Russia, according to a Canadian Forces report. And despite an "immense" language barrier, the Department of National Defence heralded the success of last summer's groundbreaking joint exercise with its former Cold War adversary. The report offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes tensions that led up to the historic attempt at military co-operation, dubbed Exercise Vigilant Eagle. It comes as the second version of Vigilant Eagle took place this week in Alaskan airspace. The exercise was originally set for 2008 but had to be cancelled when relations between Russia and the West plummeted after Moscow's invasion of neighbouring Georgia. "Accordingly, a measure of uncertainty and a perceptible note of suspicion were evident to military planners as the exercise was resurrected," Canadian Col. Todd Balfe, the deputy commander of Norad's Alaskan region, wrote in his report on the 2010 exercise. Norad is the joint Canada-U.S. command that defends against threats to North American airspace. Considered the jewel of Canada-U.S. defence relations, it was established 53 years ago essentially to monitor for Russian missile or bomber attacks. Many Canadian officers in Norad found it "challenging, for example, to explain to Russian officers the bi-national nature of this organization and to fully convince them that air defence was indeed a shared U.S.-Canadian responsibility," Balfe wrote. He noted that planners had to overcome the "memory of decades of antagonism and confrontation during the Cold War" to build new co-operation and communication between Russia and the two Norad allies. "Not surprisingly, communication between former Cold War adversaries was an immense obstacle." Planners used Internet technology such as Skype and Yahoo Chat to break down the barriers and ease the burden on translators, wrote Balfe.
Posted 10 August 2011; 4:44:51 PM. Permalink
(AFP via Yahoo! News, 8 August 2011) -- Russian Arctic shipping routes would attract more traffic than Canada's Northwest Passage -- both made increasingly accessible by melting polar ice -- a French envoy predicted Monday. "I have the impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the traffic in 25 or 30 years," said France's roving ambassador for polar regions Michel Rocard. The former French prime minister spoke to AFP in Montreal after a tour of the Arctic aboard the Canadian icebreaker Amundsen. "The road eastward along the Siberian coast is less winding (than the Northwest Passage in Canada's north)... there are fewer islands (to navigate around) and finally, it has fewer risks and is more direct, even if it's a bit longer," he said. Russia currently requires that any vessel or convoy traveling along its northern frontier be accompanied by two icebreakers, Rocard said. But US researchers have said global warming could leave the region ice-free by 2030. Canada is "too small to finance itself the infrastructure" needed to spur commercial shipping through in its Arctic -- a shorter route between European and Asian markets than the Suez and Panama canals. Russia is an "Arctic force" with several icebreakers, including four new nuclear-powered ones, Rocard said. And while Resolute Bay in Canada's far north has a mere 280 inhabitants, Russia's northernmost port cities of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk are home to 300,000 and 350,000 people, respectively.
Posted 8 August 2011; 5:27:37 PM. Permalink
(Dan Joling/Anchorage Daily News, 16 July 2011) -- Polar bears in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast face an uncertain future because of the warming climate. A U.S. and Russia commission aims to address short-term threats.The four-person commission, made up of national and Native representatives from each country, will meet for three days in Moscow starting July 27 to discuss subsistence hunting and other issues for the polar bear population shared by the two countries in the waters north and just south of the Bering Strait. The commission last year set a harvest limit of 58 split between the two sides. A main topic for the meeting will be how each side will make that work, said Eric Regehr, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife service biologist who serves on the commission's science advisory board. U.S. commissioners will present a draft harvest management plan proposed to begin the quota Jan. 1, 2013. The commission was created by a treaty signed in 2000 and is significant for representing co-management across countries and cultures, said Rosa Meehan, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's marine mammals manager in Alaska. "It's the first effort in Russia that formally recognizes the Native people of Russia and involves them in a governmental process," she said.
Posted 17 July 2011; 10:53:12 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 7 July 2011) -- In the course of the next six months, we will decide where to build our six new icebreakers, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov says. Speaking at this week’s meeting in the Maritime Board in Naryan-Mar, Arctic Russia, Ivanov confirmed that the Russian Finance Ministry already has approved the costs for six new icebreakers. Three of the new vessels are to be nuclear powered, the others will have diesel engines, he said. The Deputy Premier commissioned the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation with the task of finding the best suited shipyards for the construction. The shipbuilding corporation includes a number of Russia’s biggest and best yards, including the Sevmash and Zvezdochka yards in Severodvinsk. Ivanov did not exclude that the corporation would have to turn towards yards and expertise in Finland to accomplish the job, Vzglyad.ru reports. According to the news agency, Ivanov believes goods turnover at the Northern Sea Route could reach five million tons in the course of 2012. The new icebreakers are needed for the follow-up of the quickly expanding Arctic shipping. The Russian Transport Ministry is reportedly in the process of elaborating a new legislative bill, which will include shipping tariffs on the NSR, as well as the services provided to ships operating the route. Russia currently has six nuclear-powered icebreakers, all of them stationed at the Atomflot base in Murmansk. They are operated by Rosatomflot, a unit under the Russian nuclear power corporation Rosatom.
Posted 7 July 2011; 5:06:37 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 29 June 2011) -- Komi is the region in Northwest Russia with the biggest number of wildfires this year. So far, a total of 138 fires have put major areas ablaze, Komiinform.ru reports. The biggest fire, one in the Sosnogorsk area, is now covering a territory bigger than 1000 hectares. A state of emergency has been declared in the region, Rossiiskaya Gazeta informs. Firefighters had just got a 900 hectare fire in the Pechora municipality under control when the Sosnogorsk fire started spreading with alarming pace. A total of 18 fires are now reported to rage in the region, of which six have been localized by the authorities. Many Russians now fear another year with serious wildfires. Last summer, several huge fires left major parts of the country under a thick cover of smoke.
Posted 1 July 2011; 12:24:58 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 May 2011) -- Ecologists have warned that it is too soon to judge what environmental impact an oil slick in the Barents Sea has had. The oil spilled into the sea in the Kandalaksha Bay, off the northern Russian port city of Murmansk, after melt water carried oil from beneath the soil offshore on May 7. Officials say the oil is up to 5 millimeters thick in places. An area of the sea covering 210,000 square meters is polluted, the latest satellite data indicates. Scientists say it is too soon to gauge the full extent of the incident. "It is still hard to assess the consequences of the oil slick for animals and birds of the Kandalaksha wildlife park," Ivetta Tatarenkova, a scientist at the park, which is situated on the coast, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday. "The spill may pose a threat to eider ducks," she said. "The invertebrates - mussels, small crustaceans and others - may also suffer at the hands of the spill," she added. Efforts are underway to clean up the slick.
Posted 19 May 2011; 2:46:27 PM. Permalink
(RAD, No. 96, 12 May 2011) -- Russia’s Northern Policy: Balancing an ‘Open’ and ‘Closed’ North, by Elana Wilson Rowe, Norway; The Demographic Challenges of Russia’s Arctic, by Marlene Laruelle, Washington; Russia’s Arctic Security Strategy, by Dmitry Gorenburg, Cambridge, MA. Also, Documentation: International Law of the Sea, Oil and Gas Resources of the Arctic, The Russian Flag Below the Arctic (2007). Download from here.
Posted 12 May 2011; 11:07:56 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 6 May 2011) -- UPDATED: Taimyr was Friday evening escorted by the the nuclear powered icebreaker "Rossia" into a bay on the Vaigach island. "Ongoing leakages of cooling water from the reactor can evolve into a serious accident with potential for radioactive leakages," says nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer in Bellona. The nuclear powered icebreaker was earlier this week escorting vessels on the Yenisei river north of the port-town of Dudinka when increased levels of radiation were detected in the air ventilation system of the reactor. The icebreaker aborted its mission and started Thursday to sail back towards the homeport in Murmansk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
Posted 7 May 2011; 1:49:26 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 5 May 2011) -- Russia allocates €10 million to the Arctic Council over the next two years. The Russian Government will today discuss the question of concluding a treaty between Russia and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation on participation in the Arctic Council’s Project Support Instrument (PSI), B-port reports. Signing of the agreement will take place during the Arctic Council’s Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk, Greenland on May 12. Russia’s contribution to PSI will be €10 million in the period 2011-2013. The Project Support Instrument (PSI) was established by the Arctic Council in March 2005, and is a financial initiative that aims to focus on actions preventing pollution of the Arctic. The PSI is a mechanism for financing specific priority projects already approved by the Arctic Council, NEFCO’s website reads.
Posted 5 May 2011; 12:10:41 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 5 April 2011) -- Increased levels of radioactivity were detected in the air ventilation system, probably caused by a leak of coolant in the reactor. The incident is by Rosatomflot said to be an event on level “zero” on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Level “zero” means there are no essential threats to the people onboard or to the outside environment. The exact time of the incident is not reported, but the icebreaker is now said to be on its way back from the Yenisei river towards Murmansk. Estimated sailing time is five days so “Taimyr” will be in port in Murmansk late Sunday or early Monday. "Taimyr" will sail from Yenisei towards the Kara Sea and cross over the eastern part of the Barents Sea before sailing in the Kola bay towards Murmansk. Russia’s nuclear powered icebreaker fleet has its homeport at RTP Atomflot, in the northern part of Murmansk, the world’s largest city above the Arctic Circle with 309,000 inhabitants.
Posted 5 May 2011; 11:24:00 AM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Postmedia News, 4 May 2011) -- Canadian wildlife officials have delivered a shipment of 30 wood bison from a national park in Alberta to a historic buffalo stomping ground in sub-Arctic Russia — part of a unique, intercontinental gift of natural heritage aimed at boosting the species' long-range chances of survival. The bison airlift, carried out in late March, was the second transplant of the Canadian beasts in the past five years to the Siberian republic of Sakha, where Russian biologists are trying to recreate a long-vanished ecosystem once dominated by the related steppe bison before its extinction about 10,000 years ago. The remarkable wildlife export — made possible with a heavy Russian transport aircraft that required special permission to land at the Edmonton airport — is a showcase project this year for Parks Canada, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its creation as an distinct branch of the federal government. ... The arrival of the Canadian animals is a "huge deal" for wildlife specialists in Sakha, said Shury, "because bison haven't been present in that part of the world for over 10,000 years." The first transfer of 30 bison in 2006 was successful, he said, but the additional animals are necessary to achieve enough genetic diversity for the Siberian herd to become self-sustaining. "Once they build up enough of a breeding population," Shury said, "they'd like to release bison into the wild and restore a large herbivore into that landscape that hasn't been there for a long, long time."
Posted 4 May 2011; 11:30:24 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 22 April 2011) -- A Russian youth group has reached the North Pole after covering more than 100 kilometers on skis, the president of the Polyus Expedition Center, Irina Orlova, said on Friday. The group seven young men and women between 16 and 18 years old, along with their adult guides Matvei Shparo and Boris Smolin, were delivered to 1 degree latitude from the North Pole and skied 111 kilometers (almost 69 miles) for seven days to reach their goal. "They have set up camp on the Pole," Orlova told RIA Novosti. She said that the group should be picked up on Saturday and taken to the Russian Barneo Base by helicopter if weather permits. "If the weather is good, then helicopters will take the youths and the adults to Barneo tomorrow," Orlova said. The seven youths from Russia's Chuvashia, Orlov Region, Omsk, Cheboksar, Perm Region, Vologda Region, and Moscow were chosen among 50 candidates vying for the chance to ski to the North Pole. The expedition was organized by the charitable foundation Priklyuchenie Club (Adventure Club) and the Russian Ministry of Sports and Tourism under the auspices of the Russian Geographic Society, as well as the Association of the North Pole Expedition Center Polyus.
Posted 23 April 2011; 11:04:54 PM. Permalink
(Jacob Resneck, KMXT via APRN, 18 April 2010) -- Kodiak- Flagship cutters from the U.S. and Russian coast guards are in Kodiak this week as the two nations meet to strengthen cooperation in enforcing in each other’s fishing grounds in the Bering Sea. The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter Bertholf is in port preparing for its first patrol in the North Pacific. Moored alongside is its Russian counterpart, the cutter Vorovsky which arrived from Russia on Sunday.
(Yamal News, 13 April 2011) -- The modern multifunctional port Sabetta will be built on Yamal peninsula. This information was given by the first deputy governor of Yamal Vladimir Vladimirov in the course of the working trip to the settlement Seyakha (Yamalskiy district). By the information given in the press-service of the governor of Yamal, Vladimir Vladimirov conducted the conference with the head of Yamalskiy district Andrey Nesterouk, the head of the settlement Seyakha Igor Okotetto and the deputy chairperson of the administration of "NOVATEK" Yevgeniy Kot. The sides discussed questions of assistance to building of the port Sabetta on Yamal peninsula. The necessity of this building is stipulated with a decision not to bring shipment of liquefied gas farther to the north of the peninsula but to tie it to extractive fields. For realization of this project "NOVATEK" and the government of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug are to conduct bottom dredging on the waterway of Ob Estuary. The port Sabetta can become the key link in the scheme of transportation of not only liquefied gas from Yamal, but also products of fish and venison processing. By the words of Vladimir Vladimirov, if it will be possible to come out to the world level, without doubts, cargoes from Seyakha and Sabetta will go both to Europe and Asia.
Posted 17 April 2011; 11:57:56 AM. Permalink
(Moscow Times, 28 March 2011) -- Norway welcomed a Russian State Duma vote ratifying a treaty to divide the Barents Sea into clear Norwegian and Russian zones, bringing Norway closer to a new oil and gas drive in the Arctic. "The action in the Duma is gratifying and is a big step toward implementing the agreement," Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen said Saturday, a day after Russia's lower house of parliament ratified the deal. Earlier this month, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Norway would begin a formal study into offshore oil and gas exploration along the newly delineated boundary in the Barents Sea soon after Russia ratifies the treaty. Approval by Russia's upper house, or Federation Council, is considered a formality as it regularly rubber stamps initiatives from President Dmitry Medvedev, who helped negotiate the Barents treaty in Oslo and signed off on its terms last September. Norway's parliament ratified it Feb. 8. Elsebutangen said the line, running between Norwegian and Russian archipelagos most of the way to the North Pole, will become law 30 days after Medvedev signs it and the two countries formally "exchange documents." "We hope that won't take long," he said, adding that the deal "will open the way for new rules on new opportunities to exploit resources." The area to be divided after 40 years of dispute is about half the size of Germany.
Posted 30 March 2011; 12:05:42 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 7 March 2011) -- KALININGRAD - Russian lower house of parliament, the State Duma, will ratify a maritime border demarcation treaty with Norway within a month, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. Last year Russia and Norway signed a deal to delimit their maritime border in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean after 40 years of negotiations. Both countries have been disputing the 175,000 square km area since 1970. The absence of defined maritime border often resulted in detentions of fishing vessels in the region. The agreement has also paved the way for the lifting of a 30-year-long moratorium on oil and gas extraction in the previously disputed zone. "We were discussing the vital issue for our states [maritime border demarcation pact]...Norway has ratified the pact. Russia has just started the ratification. We are planning to settle it within a month," Lavrov told a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Russia, however, is still in a dispute with Canada over the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean, with both countries trying to persuade a UN commission that it is an extension of its own continental shelf. The sides have agreed that scientific evidence should resolve the dispute.
Posted 7 March 2011; 2:14:23 PM. Permalink
(Sever-Press, 3 March 2011) -- By the results of the food exhibition "ProdExpo 2011", which took place in Moscow, tinned products of reindeer meat won golden medals in the category "The Best Product of 2011". This information was given to IA "Sever-Press" in the press service of the head of the region. "Yamal stewed venison" and "Yamal paté" were made by the order of Yamalgossnab (the procurement agency) at Troitsk tinned food factory (Chelyabinsk). In addition, the row of contracts to deliver products of reindeer herding and fishing manufactured by Yamal producers to other regions of Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg) and to the Czech Republic were concluded on the exhibition.
Posted 7 March 2011; 10:39:29 AM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 3 March 2011) -- The new railway line connecting the Yamal Peninsula with the rest of the Russian railway grid is declared open to regular traffic. Regular operation of the 572-km long railroad to its terminal point – the Karskaya station – was launched in February 15. The line connects major regional installations like the Bovanenkovo gas field with national key infrastructure. The Obskaya-Bovanenkovo railway line will enable Gazprom to easily ship huge quantities of goods and construction materials to its field development sites in Yamal. "The opening of this railway will facilitate all-year-round, quick, cost efficient and not-weather-dependent transport of goods and personnel to the fields in Yamal under the harsh Arctic conditions," a press release from Gazprom reads. Unline other Russian railway lines, the Obskaya-Bovanenkovo line is owned by Gazprom. As previously reported, the Russian Railways have been invited to take over the line, but has shown little interest. In addition to railway and field development in Yamal, Gazprom is also investing in the laying of the Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline.
Posted 3 March 2011; 10:18:26 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen /Barents Observer, 2 March 2011) -- The Russian border guard service plans to establish a monitoring network in the Arctic from Murmansk to the Wrangel Island. The monitoring network will ensure effective control over the Arctic, says First Deputy Commander of the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Border Guard Service Colonel General Vyacheslav Dorokhin, according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The Northern Sea Route is currently controlled from the air by FSB aircraft, on the western part of the route by vessels from the border guard service in Murmansk and on the eastern part of the route by coast guard vessels from the North-Eastern Border Guard Agency, Dorokhin says. The general underlines that the Arctic is a priority area for the FSBs border guard service.
Posted 2 March 2011; 9:41:03 AM. Permalink
(Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer, 17 February 2011) -- Norilsk-Nickel, the biggest air-polluter in the Barents Region, says the upgrade of smelting facilities in Nikel is assessed to 4,6 billion rubles. Norilsk-Nickel proudly announces the results of its environmental activities for 2010 in a press-release. But, the reduction in emission over the last year is only at the metal-giant’s plants in Norilsk in Siberia. For the plants on the Kola Peninsula, emission cuts are still to come. Like in the 2009, Norilsk-Nickel also this year says the new briquetting lines in Zapolyarny will be launched and consequently emissions of sulphur dioxide will be cut with 95 percent. In a press-release dated September 24, 2009 Norilsk-Nickel said the start-up and adjustment of the first line would start in August 2010. Today, the company says it will be launched in first half of 2011. But, as BarentsObserver previously has reported, the modernization in Zapolyarny will only “move” the emission to the smelter in Nikel, just some few kilometers from the border to Norway. Instead of being emitted from the briquetting process, the contained sulphur will be emitted as SO2 from the smelter in the neighboring town of Nikel. At least until the plant in Nikel gets new technology and cleaning facilities. In January, BarentsObserver reported that a modernization deal for Nikel soon will be signed with the Finnish company Outokumpu. In its press-release today, Norilsk-Nickel says the modernization costs is preliminarily assessed at 4,6 billion rubles (€120 million). The smelters and processing plants in Monchegorsk, also on the Kola Peninsula, is not mentioned in the environmental press statement for 2010.
Posted 20 February 2011; 2:01:55 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via AM770, 15 February 2011) -- A group of Canadian and Russian explorers will set out to make history this week by driving from Russia to Canada over the North Pole. Yes, driving. "It's the first time ... someone will be crossing the Arctic Ocean with a wheel-based vehicle," said Mikhail Glan, a Russian emigre living in Vancouver. "It's a very interesting project." The eight-member Polar Ring team, which includes two Canadians, is to leave Thursday from an island in the Russian Arctic and roll straight north until it hits the pole. The team will then gas up and take on supplies at an ice camp used by tourists before heading south to Resolute, Nunavut. "We plan to drive from Russia to the North Pole ... Then we'll drive all the way to Resolute Bay," Glan said from Moscow. "It's pretty simple." Simple, that is, until you consider that the trip is expected to take about four months and cover 7,000 kilometres in one of the most forbidding parts of the planet — nearly half of it sea ice. At the North Pole, the sun won't even rise until March 19. The average temperature is -34°C. And while southern lakes may freeze into easily crossed white tabletops, the Arctic Ocean does anything but. The thick ice shifts and moves with winds and currents, throwing up huge ridges when pans bump together and leaving wide stretches of frigid, open water when they don't. This year is likely to be even tougher than most. There's less ocean covered by ice now than there has been in any winter since satellite records began. "There could be lots of open water," said Glan. "We're not sure that it will freeze. Most probably not, so we need to drive around." But that's OK. The ice buggies can float. "We can cross pretty big pieces of open water, but it definitely will slow us down. We hope that the weather will be more or less friendly." The buggies are an entirely new design, Glan said. Other drive-the-sea-ice expeditions have used vehicles that are heavy and tank-like. A 2009 group drove modified U.S. military Humvees between the Nunavut communities of Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay. Polar Ring's vehicles, powered by nine-litre diesel engines, are relatively light, and look like beefed-up, closed-in dune buggies with gigantic balloon tires. Proving the worth of those vehicles is one of the reasons for the trip. Glan said a successful drive would demonstrate that wheeled transportation could be an efficient way to get around in the High Arctic — useful to everyone from scientists to resource companies to search-and-rescue teams. The Polar Ring members, who will post their progress on the web, will also take myriad scientific measurements and track polar bears.
Posted 18 February 2011; 3:19:21 PM. Permalink
(Andrew E. Kramer and Clifford Krauss/New York Times, 16 February 2011) -- The Arctic Ocean is a forbidding place for oil drillers. But that is not stopping Russia from jumping in — or Western oil companies from eagerly following. Russia, where onshore oil reserves are slowly dwindling, last month signed an Arctic exploration deal with the British petroleum giant BP, whose offshore drilling prospects in the United States were dimmed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. Other Western oil companies, recognizing Moscow’s openness to new ocean drilling, are now having similar discussions with Russia. New oil from Russia could prove vital to world supplies in coming decades, now that it has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, and as long as global demand for oil continues to rise. But as the offshore Russian efforts proceed, the oil companies will be venturing where other big countries ringing the Arctic Ocean — most notably the United States and Canada — have been wary of letting oil field development proceed, for both safety and environmental reasons. ... The Arctic holds one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas, the United States Geological Survey estimates. According to a 2009 report by the Energy Department, 43 of the 61 significant Arctic oil and gas fields are in Russia. The Russian side of the Arctic is particularly rich in natural gas, while the North American side is richer in oil. While the United States and Canada balk, other countries are clearing Arctic space for the industry. Norway, which last year settled a territorial dispute with Russia, is preparing to open new Arctic areas for drilling. Last year Greenland, which became semi-autonomous from Denmark in 2009, allowed Cairn Energy to do some preliminary drilling. Cairn, a Scottish company, is planning four more wells this year, while Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell are also expected to drill in the area over the next few years. But of the five countries with Arctic Ocean coastline, Russia has the most at stake in exploring and developing the region. “Russia is one of the fundamental building blocks in world oil supply,” said Daniel Yergin, the oil historian and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. “It has a critical role in the global energy balance. The Arctic will be one of the critical factors in determining how much oil Russia is producing in 15 years and exporting to the rest of the world.”
Posted 18 February 2011; 2:49:51 PM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 17 February 2011) -- Norway, Russia send joint expedition to the dump sites for submarine reactors in the Kara Sea this summer. Will it be safe to lift the old reactors and bring them safely onshore? A total of 16 naval reactors were dumped east of Novaya Zemlya during the Soviet period. Reactors were dumped because accidents with them caused high levels of radiation. Naval yards in Severodvinsk and along the coast of the Kola Peninsula wouldn’t dare to keep them stored near populated areas, nor less to decommission them in a proper way. The “easy” solution was simply to dump them in remote Arctic waters. Most scaring are the six reactors that were dumped with their highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel still onboard. In the early 90ties, several expeditions with Norwegian and Russian radiation experts onboard sailed to the dump-sites in the Kara Sea. Their findings were just partly without worries. Some samples indicated small leakages in the near vicinity of the reactors, while some reactors were not found. The last joint Norwegian, Russian expedition to the Kara Sea took place in 1994. Since then, only Russian scientists have been given permission to enter the dump-sites areas. This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) holds a workshop in Oslo with participants from several of the countries involved in nuclear safety operations in northwest-Russia. The objective is to initiate further investigation on sunken submarines and reactors in the Arctic Oceans and strategies to solve the problems. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Agency reports today that the goal is to send a new joint expedition to the sites of dumped reactors and sunken submarines. Such expedition will take place later this year, and is supposed to include Norwegian and Russian team members in addition to experts from IAEA. The big question is: Will it be possible to lift the sunken reactors and bring them safely back to a naval yard without releases of radioactivity? In the ’90s nobody demanded to lift the Kara Sea dumped reactors. Those days, experts and the public were far more concerned about the 120 rusty nuclear powered submarines that were laid-up at the different naval bases and shipyards on the coast of the Kola Peninsula and in Severodvinsk. Today, most of the old laid-up subs are decommissioned and their reactors are safely stored onshore in the Saida Bay, west of Murmansk.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:58:51 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 15 February 2011) -- An indigenous group inhabiting Russia's northern region of Yakutia has called for the rerouting of a planned Siberian gas pipeline. The planned pipeline, which will link Yakutia's Chayandinskoye oil and gas deposit with the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk, is to be constructed near an indigenous Evenk settlement. "We are not against progress or economic development, but we feel like we are the ones who will suffer from this," the group said in a petition, signed by 213 people. "Our reindeer pastures and hunting sites are being seized, rivers are being poisoned and fish are disappearing." The Evenks have sent letters to the regional and national governments calling for the rerouting of the pipeline. They say their habitat is already under threat from the construction of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline and the development of gold and iron ore deposits in the republic. Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is constructing the pipeline, has said an alternative pipeline would be much longer and would cost around 49 billion rubles ($1.67 billion) more in construction expenditures "The sparsely populated Evenks, who have inhabited these territories for centuries, will be most affected by this decision," Yakut deputy parliamentary speaker Andrei Krivoshapkin told RIA Novosti. The Chayandinskoye oil and gas deposit to be developed by Gazprom is one of the largest in Russia, with gas reserves estimated at 1.24 trillion cubic meters and oil and gas condensate reserves of 68.4 billion tons.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:48:55 PM. Permalink
(Nicholas Kohler/Macleans, 16 February 2011) -- In the spring of 2006, wildlife biologists with the Canadian government loaded 30 wood bison calves, 15 males and 15 females, into three modified horse trailers and drove them from Elk Island National Park, in Alberta, to Edmonton International Airport an hour away. There they watched as a crane extended from the bowels of an Ilyushin Il-76, the Russian counterpart to the Lockheed Hercules, and collected the trailers one by one from the tarmac. During the 15-hour flight that followed, the Il-76 was kept a cool 10° C; wood bison grow uncomfortable in heat. When they reached Yakutsk, capital of the Republic of Sakha—located in northeast Siberia and also called Yakutia—then-president Vyacheslav Shtyrov greeted the wood bison with a retinue of ministers. Alongside him, a crowd of some 200 Yakutians, many in traditional garb, performed dances and serenaded the herd with toyuk—a blessing song. To the visiting Canadians they offered raw horse liver and wood goblets filled with kumis, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented mare’s milk. Sakha newspapers later delighted in running photographs of one Canadian, mid-sip, visibly distressed by the taste of the milk. Despite the pomp, few in Sakha had ever seen bison, which haven’t lived in Siberia since the steppe bison, an animal twice the wood bison’s size, died out 10,000 years ago. If the Yakutians celebrated the herd’s arrival, Parks Canada employees simply fretted over the transfer. Wood bison, at upwards of 900 kg, are the largest land mammal in North America, and are classified as a threatened species. Yet, five years on, their foray into Siberia has proven a success: the animals, who live on a wildlife preserve, began reproducing a year after their arrival, earlier than expected, and have grown larger than their Alberta cousins thanks, it’s thought, to the Sakha cold.
Posted 17 February 2011; 8:32:49 PM. Permalink
(The Moscow Times, 27 May 2010) -- NOVO-OGARYOVO, Moscow Region - Russia's biggest shipping company, state-owned Sovkomflot, has agreed to carry oil to China across the Arctic Ocean, an unusual route for such cargo, a senior government banker said Wednesday. Vladimir Dmitriyev, chief of the state development bank VEB, made the statement after the lender's board, chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, convened earlier in the day to approve a 240 million euro ($293 million) purchase of two ice-breaking tankers from a St. Petersburg shipyard for subsequent leasing to the shipping company. Sovkomflot ordered the vessels to take oil from Gazprom's offshore Prirazlomnoye field in the Arctic, whose development has fallen much behind schedule. Gazprom is now planning to send a drilling rig to the field next year. The delay prompted Sovkomflot to line up a contract to use the Finnish-designed tankers for oil supplies from the Arctic port of Murmansk to China, Dmitriyev said. "The ships are meant for work in icy conditions," he told reporters at Putin's residence of Novo-Ogaryovo, adding that they could carry oil, oil products and gas condensate to Southeast Asia as well. Sovkomflot has taken delivery of one of the tankers. The Admiralty Shipyard will complete the other vessel later this year, Dmitriyev said.
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:21:22 PM. Permalink
[Found lodged in the crevices of my web site] (Mareike Aden/Living Planet, 12 March 2010) -- In the Bikin River Valley, in the region close to Russia's border with China, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the indigenous locals have found an unusual conservation solution.
(Thomas Nilsen/BarentsObserver, 11 January 2011) -- A delegation from Russia’s Arctic Yamal Peninsula is in Finland this week to discuss the plans for active tourism cooperation. The plan is to create an Arctic tourism centre in the city of Salekhard, the capital of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, reports Voice of Russia. Finland has over the last decades created massive winter tourism in Lapland, and the delegation from Yamal will study the Finnish experiences.
Posted 16 January 2011; 2:44:41 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
(Julia Werdigier/New York Times, 14 January 2011) -- The British oil giant BP agreed on Friday to a partnership with Rosneft, a Russian company, forming an alliance to explore the Russian Arctic. ... The two companies would explore three license blocks on the Russian Arctic continental shelf that were awarded to Rosneft last year and span about 50,000 square miles. ... The agreement allows BP to expand its operation in Russia at a time when the demand for energy is rising and competition to explore new fields is heating up. “We are very pleased to be joining Russia’s leading oil company to jointly explore some of the most promising parts of the Russian Arctic, one of the world’s last remaining unexplored basins,” Mr. Dudley said in a statement. “This unique agreement underlines our long-term, strategic and deepening links with the world’s largest hydrocarbon-producing nation,” he added. The deal drew immediate calls for a review by a lawmaker in Washington, who noted that BP was the top petroleum supplier to the United States military in 2009.
Posted 15 January 2011; 11:02:40 PM. Permalink
(Times of India, 8 January 2011) -- VLADIVOSTOK - Air temperatures of minus 61.2 degrees Celsius were reported last night in the settlement of Oimyakon in Russia's republic of Yakutia, known as the cold pole. Daytime temperatures here rose to minus 53.9 degree Celsius. An intense spell of cold weather will stay in Oimyakon with a population of 500 for several days more, according to weather forecasts. Heavy frosts were reported in neighbouring settlements as well. Air temperatures in the settlement of Ust-Nera, the Oimyakov district administrative centre, were minus 54.7 degrees Celsius. Ust-Nera's population is 8,500 people. The city of Yakutsk is "lucky" to have much "warmer" air temperatures of 35.7 degrees below zero. The record low air temperatures of minus 67.7 degrees Celsius were registered in Oimyakon in 1933. In the 21st century, the lowest temperature was 64.5 degrees below zero. It was registered in 2002.
Posted 14 January 2011; 3:03:35 AM. Permalink
(Atle Staalesen/BarentsObserver, 10 January 2011) -- The Northwest Russian region of Arkhangelsk in 2010 had an economic growth of almost 11 percent. More positive results are expected in 2011, regional experts say. According to the regional Ministry of Economic Development, the Gross Regional Product of Arkhangelsk in 2010 grew by 10,9 percent. That is more than the double of the average in Russia, Dvinainform.ru reports. The GRP now amounts to 240 billion RUB while per capital GRP is 201,000. The figures do not include the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the closely associated and richer region in the north. In the Nenets AO, the GRP in 2010 grew by 1,9 percent, the ministry says. The regional growth in Arkhangelsk comes after a period of serious crisis. As described in the Barents Monitoring reports, the Arkhangelsk economy in 2009 suffered a serious setback both with regard to the industry and the regional administration. In 2010 industrial production picked pace with a 18 percent growth (January-November). Investments however increased only four percent. Experts predict a continuation of the positive trend in 2011. The region is expected to significantly boost its regional revenues, Dvinainform.ru writes. Read more about social and economic trends in Barents Russia in the Barents Monitoring reports
Posted 12 January 2011; 10:28:28 PM. Permalink
(Atle Staalesen/Barents Observer, 3 January 2011) -- The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources is likely to give the picturesque Khibiny mountains in the Kola Peninsula status as natural park. The establishment of the natural park is included in the ministry’s plans for the period until year 2020, the ministry confirms in a letter to the Murmansk regional government. The project will be assessed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Regional Development before it will be handed over to government for final approval, a press release informs. The Khibiny national park will be a victory for environmentalists in Murmansk Oblast. As previously reported, the environmentalists have repeatedly warned against devastating pressure from industry and called for the establishment of the national park. The Khibiny mountains are highly rick on valuable minerals and metals and the mining industry has several major projects under planning in the area. Also the oil industry pushes for the development of projects in the area, and first of all the laying of the Shtokman gas pipeline from Teriberka to Volkhov.
Posted 8 January 2011; 6:41:18 PM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 3 January 2011) -- Parts of the money from a privatization of Russia’s largest shipping company Sovcomflot can be used to build new icebreakers, says Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov. Sovcomflot will be partly privatized in course of the next three years. 25 percent of the state’s shares in the shipping company will be sold in 2011, while another 25 percent minus one share will be sold in 2012-2013, RIA Novosti reports. In a meeting in the government in the end of December, Ivanov said that parts of the money from the sale will be used for the building of new nuclear icebreakers. Prime MInsiter Vladimir Putin has earlier instructed the Ministry of Transport to consider construction of three nuclear icebreakers within 2015. The vessels will probably be built in Murmansk. The next generation of nuclear icebreakers, named project 22220, will be able to operate both in rivers and in the Arctic Ocean. New technology will make it possible for the vessel to stick from 8,5 to 10,5 meters, said Vorobyov. It will be put into all-year operation in the Barents, Pechora and Kara Seas.
Posted 8 January 2011; 6:28:46 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 2 January 2011) -- PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY - Thin layer of ash from the active Kizimen volcano has on Sunday covered the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky where 60 percent of the Kamchatka Peninsula residents live, a representative for the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. "A taint of grey ash typical of Kizimen can be seen on the snow, on the cars and on all of the surfaces in the city," the spokesman said. He said the layer is tiny, about 0.5 millimeters, and added that the current situation does not pose a threat to the health of the local residents. However, the ash could affect the operations of aircraft. The Kizimen volcano is located 265 kilometers away from Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky. Kizimen's last eruption occurred in the end of 1920-s, but it the volcano started to exhibit activity the last June and a new eruption began a month ago.
Posted 2 January 2011; 12:13:54 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 19 December 2010) -- A Mil Mi-8 helicopter crashed on the Russian Arctic island of Yamal on Sunday, killing the crew commander and injuring 15 passengers, a spokesman for Russian Aviation Committee (Rosaviatsia) said. There were 15 passengers and three crewmembers aboard the helicopter. "The passengers received injuries of various degree of gravity while the crew commander was killed," the spokesman said, adding that the fate of the other two crewmembers was unknown. The Mi-8 helicopter owned by Yamal Airline was delivering geologists from the town of Labytnanga to the Bovanenkovo hydrocarbon field, which Russian energy giant Gazprom is developing, the spokesman said. The helicopter was landing in the conditions of polar night and was destroyed after hitting the ground. Another helicopter of Yamal Airline has flown to the site of the incident to evacuate people injured in the crash, the spokesman said.
Posted 29 December 2010; 2:32:12 AM. Permalink
(Xinhua via Kerala.com, 26 December 2010) -- Moscow - Russia will build a nuclear-powered icebreaker for use during winters in the country's western Arctic region. The money earned through selling a stake in Sovcomflot, Russia's largest shipbuilding company, will not go to state coffers but will be spent on building a new-generation nuclear-powered icebreaker, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said, according to Xinhua. The construction of the icebreaker, whose speed would reach 37 km per hour, will be completed in five years, he said. Russia's Federal Atomic Agency, Rosatom, is currently waiting for a go-ahead for the project scheduled for 2011. Some officials, however, said that more analyses of the project's cost were needed, because the project's expense exceeded the initially estimated cost. The icebreaker will be used for work in the western Arctic, including Barents Sea, Pechora Sea and Kara Sea.
Posted 29 December 2010; 2:27:45 AM. Permalink