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Monthly Archives: May 2009 − News & Stories


Rus­si­an ship wre­cked at Bjørnøya

The Rus­si­an free­zing ship Petro­za­vodsk ran aground near the sou­thern tip of Bear Island (Bjørnøya) on Mon­day, 11 May. The seas wit­hin one nau­ti­cal mile from the shore are pro­tec­ted and may not be ent­e­red with ves­sels lon­ger than 40 feet, as the cliffs are home to some of the lar­gest sea­b­ird colo­nies of the north Atlan­tic; the num­bers of bree­ding Brünich’s and Com­mon guil­lemots amount to several hund­red thousands and the bree­ding sea­son is just about to begin. The Petro­za­vodsk is lying on a reef just under the cliffs, which fre­quent­ly pro­du­ce rock­falls, making remo­val of the wreck dan­ge­rous, if not impos­si­ble. The ves­sel, which was ope­ra­ting in the Bar­ents sea tog­e­ther with Rus­si­an fishing ships, is dama­ged and seems to be loo­sing fuel, pro­bab­ly hea­vy oil, of which the­re seem to be about 53 tons on board.

Cap­tain and first offi­cer have been inter­view­ed in Lon­gye­ar­by­en by the Sys­sel­man­nen and will be on tri­al in Nor­way. Both had alco­hol in their blood upon arri­val in Lon­gye­ar­by­en soon after the acci­dent. The first mate was on watch at the time of the groun­ding, he was pro­bab­ly slee­ping (real­ly!).

Hard to belie­ve, isn’t it?
The wreck of the Petro­za­vodsk just under the cliffs of Bjørnøya. Image © Kyst­ver­ket

Russian ship wrecked at Bjørnøya

Source: Kyst­ver­ket, Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

First oil field  in the Bar­ents sea opens in 2013

The Nor­we­gi­an government has given per­mis­si­on to explo­it the oil field “Goli­at” with an esti­ma­ted 174 mil­li­on bar­rels oil north of Ham­mer­fest. Pro­duc­tion is sup­po­sed to start in 2013 under strict envi­ron­men­tal con­di­ti­ons. Goli­at will be the first Nor­we­gi­an oil field in the arc­tic Bar­ents sea; “Snøh­vit” which is alrea­dy in use is sole­ly a gas field.

Fos­sil fuels: future tech­no­lo­gy for the Arc­tic, at least accord­ing to Nor­we­gi­an plans
(this is the coal power plant in Bar­ents­burg, admit­ted­ly slight­ly pole­mi­cal)

First oil field  in the Barents sea opens in 2013

Source: Nor­we­gi­sche Regie­rung Pres­se­mit­tei­lung

New Spits­ber­gen-news­pa­per

It has often been said that the local news­pa­per “Sval­bard­pos­ten” might well need some com­pe­ti­ti­on. Final­ly, the Ame­ri­can jour­na­list Mark Sab­ba­ti­ni, cur­r­ent­ly based in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, is now publi­shing “Ice­peop­le – The world’s nort­hern­most alter­na­ti­ve news­pa­per”, on the web (click here). Spitsbergen.de wis­hes good suc­ces!
 

“Icepeople”-logo
(© ice­peop­le)

New Spitsbergen-newspaper icepeople-Logo

Source: Ice­peop­le

Rus­si­ans lost court case con­cer­ning heli­co­p­ter flights

The Nor­we­gi­an-Rus­si­an legal dis­pu­te con­cer­ning pos­si­b­ly ille­gal heli­co­p­ter flights has alrea­dy been men­ti­on. In April, the “Nord-Nor­sk Tin­g­rett” has pas­sed its sen­tence: The Rus­si­ans have to pay a sen­tence of 50.000 Nor­we­gi­an crow­ner. The Rus­si­ans claim that arti­cle 3 of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty pro­vi­des equal rights to citi­zens of all signa­to­ry nati­ons and might appeal.

Nor­we­gi­an law is in for­ce also in Bar­ents­burg.

Russians lost court case concerning helicopter flights

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten (16/2009)

Coal mining in the Arc­tic on the way towards future  

Bjørn Arne­stad, mana­ging direc­tor of the Nor­we­gi­an coal mining com­pa­ny “Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kull­kom­pa­ni” (SNSK), has com­men­ted on the future of his com­pa­ny and on the Sval­bard white paper of the Nor­we­gi­an government that has recent­ly been publis­hed (see below). The­re are enough coal reser­ves, inclu­ding mines that do not exist yet, until 2023, but SNSK still needs to deve­lop new busi­ness ide­as for the time after 2023. Ship­ping ser­vices across the then most likely lar­ge­ly ice-free Arc­tic Oce­an might be an opti­on, accord­ing to Arne­stad. About the white paper, he said that he is as satis­fied with it as if he had writ­ten it hims­elf, as the Nor­we­gi­an governm­nent puts clear empha­si­ze on future coal mining on Spits­ber­gen.

The fact that the­re is a rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween coal mining and cli­ma­te chan­ge has obvious­ly not had an influ­ence on this stra­te­gi­cal decisi­on, alt­hough – offi­cial­ly – hig­hest envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards are sup­po­sed to be para­mount for all eco­no­mic acti­vi­ties in Sval­bard and cli­ma­te chan­ge has been iden­ti­fied as the one major sin­gle thre­at to the arc­tic envi­ron­ment and eco­sys­tems.

It seems almost iro­nic that the coal mining com­pa­ny SNSK might bene­fit from cli­ma­te chan­ge by uti­li­zing new ship­ping rou­tes in then ice-free waters.

Coal mining: future acti­vi­ti­ty in the Arc­tic?
(mine 7 near Lon­gye­ar­by­en)

Coal mining in the Arctic

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten (16/2009)

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