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Monthly Archives: September 2013 − News & Stories

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com on face­book

Now you can fol­low spitsbergen-svalbard.com on face­book. As pro­bab­ly the last ones in the busi­ness, we have recent­ly estab­lis­hed a face­book page. Posts are more fre­quent the­re than in the spitsbergen-svalbard.com news sec­tion, not only inclu­ding important stuff from the arc­tic, but also small sto­ries from polar voya­ges fresh from the field, news from the polar book fac­to­ry, gems from the pho­to archi­ve, … from real news to the occa­sio­nal just pure­ly fun­ny post. You will find all posts both in Eng­lish and in Ger­man.

We are loo­king for­ward to visits and „like it“ clicks at


Spitsbergen-svalbard.com (Rolf Stan­ge and MaLou, the logistics- and ship­ping depart­ment)

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com on face­book

Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com on facebook

Oil in Spits­ber­gen?

Oil in Spits­ber­gen? Oil and gas have been loo­ked for mul­ti­ple times sin­ce the 1960, and not­hing of eco­no­mic value had been found so far. It did not seem a rele­vent ques­ti­on any­mo­re, at least onshore.

Now it seems pos­si­ble that the­re might be oil in rele­vant quan­ti­ties whe­re few would have expec­ted it: natu­ral­ly stored in the coal. The paleo­ce­ne (60 mil­li­on years ago) coal that is mined in Spits­ber­gen has an oil con­tent that is hig­her than usu­al. Was the oil extrac­ted from the coal and sold sepa­r­ate­ly, then the value of one ton coal might see a signi­fi­cant rise: 150 oil-dol­lars against 70-80 dol­lars from coal sales, based on cur­rent world mar­ket pri­ces. And even the resi­du­al coke might still be sold for ener­gy pro­duc­tion.

The oil poten­ti­al of Spitsbergen’s coal reser­ves is rough­ly esti­ma­ted at 700 mil­li­on bar­rel: not a „game­ch­an­ger“ on the world mar­ket, but poten­ti­al­ly very important for the local mining com­pa­ny, Store Nor­ske. This does not inclu­de any reser­ves from coal older than the Paleo­ce­ne. The­re is coal from the Devo­ni­an, Car­bo­ni­fe­rous, Tri­as­sic and Cret­ace­ous in Spits­ber­gen, but the­se have not been inves­ti­ga­ted enough to say anything about their oil poten­ti­al.

In any case, the value of the resour­ces would rise signi­fi­cant­ly. This might also make coal seams inte­res­ting, that have so far been con­si­de­red com­mer­cial­ly unim­portant.

If this ever beco­mes rea­li­ty, is anything but cer­tain: the­re is, so far, no pro­cess avail­ab­le that could be used com­mer­cial­ly in Spits­ber­gen on an indus­tri­al sca­le. And any pro­cess would requi­re sub­stan­ti­al invest­ments, some­thing that would pro­vi­de dif­fi­cul­ties for Store Nor­ske, which is cur­r­ent­ly facing a huge defi­cit. And final­ly, explo­ita­ti­on of so far untouched coal resour­ces would be poli­ti­cal­ly high­ly con­tro­ver­si­al, even in the oil-and-gas-coun­try Nor­way.

Ship­ping coal from the port of Lon­gye­ar­by­en: will the­re be pipe­lines next to the cra­nes in the future?

Coal shipping, port of Longyearbyen

Source: Teknisk Uke­b­lad

Gas in Spits­ber­gen?

Gas in Spits­ber­gen? Oil and gas have been loo­ked for mul­ti­ple times sin­ce the 1960, and not­hing of eco­no­mic value had been found so far. It did not seem a rele­vent ques­ti­on any­mo­re, at least onshore.

Until recent­ly, when gas was found by pure coin­ci­dence in quan­ti­ties that has cau­sed rene­wed inte­rest and could actual­ly lead to pro­duc­tion in the future. It was during a rese­arch dril­ling for the CO2 sto­rage pro­ject in Advent­da­len (see “Lon­gye­ar­by­en CO2 neu­tral?” in spitsbergen-svalbard.com-news from May 2013) that gas star­ted to flow out from the well with a con­stant pres­su­re of 25 bar. The source rock is a shale at a depth of 700 meters. The owner of the area is Store Nor­ske, the mining com­pa­ny that is run­ning the coal mines in the same area (mine 7) and in Sveagru­va.

The­re is, howe­ver, still a long way to go befo­re any pro­duc­tion might poten­ti­al­ly start. Sub­stan­ti­al and expen­si­ve explo­ra­ti­ve dril­ling is nee­ded to inves­ti­ga­te the natu­re and volu­me of the occur­rence. If Store Nor­ske is able and wil­ling to invest hea­vi­ly seems at least cur­r­ent­ly unli­kely: the com­pa­ny is cur­r­ent­ly in a dif­fi­cult eco­no­mi­c­al situa­ti­on.

It would be a twist of iro­ny if reser­ach wit­hin a pro­ject desi­gned to make the ener­gy pro­duc­tion in Lon­gye­ar­by­en CO2-neu­tral would lead to the pro­duc­tion of even more fos­sil ener­gy in Spits­ber­gen.

The CO2-Lab in Advent­da­len near Lon­gye­ar­by­en: time will show if this is the site for future CO2 dum­ping or gas pro­duc­tion.

CO2-Lab, Adventdalen, Spitsbergen

Source: Petro.no

Spits­ber­gen-gui­de­book: 4th Ger­man edi­ti­on now avail­ab­le

The 4th updated edi­ti­on of Rolf Stange’s gui­de­book “Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard” (Ger­man ver­si­on) is now avail­ab­le. Many text sec­tions in almost all chap­ters have been updated or added, the­re are many new colour pho­tos, a who­le new page block of 16 pages with text has been added. A new cover makes the 4th edi­ti­on reco­gniz­ab­le as a new book. The­re are more than enough updates to make the purcha­se worthwhile also for owners of pre­vious edi­ti­ons. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on about the new edi­ti­on of “Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard” (4th Ger­man edi­ti­on).

Tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties during the print pro­cess led to a delay of several mon­ths during the pro­duc­tion.

The third Eng­lish edi­ti­on (2012) remains of cour­se avail­ab­le.

Spits­ber­gen-gui­de­book “Spitz­ber­gen-Sval­bard”: the 4th updated Ger­man edi­ti­on is now avail­ab­le.


Polar bear dead after ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on by sci­en­tists

Sci­en­ti­fic field work on polar bears is usual­ly anything but ani­mal-friend­ly. Fotos and vide­os from polar bears being cha­sed by heli­co­p­ters have more than once been seen and met with cri­ti­zism. As a per­so­nal obser­va­ti­on, we hard­ly see polar bears any­mo­re that have not been mar­ked by sci­en­tists. Near-con­ta­ct with sci­en­tists, which can safe­ly be assu­med by be a very stress­ful, if not trau­ma­tic expe­ri­ence, is thus likely to be the rule rather than the excep­ti­on for Spitsbergen’s polar bears.

Recent­ly, a polar bear did not sur­vi­ve the sci­en­ti­fic tre­at­ment. A young male, 2 or 3 years old and phy­si­cal­ly in good shape, was found dead 2 days after ana­es­the­ti­sa­ti­on by sci­en­tists at Meod­den on Edgeøya. A pos­si­ble explana­ti­on is that the ani­mal has moved from a side­way posi­ti­on. It was found lying on the sto­mach and had suf­fo­ca­ted. Ana­es­the­ti­sa­ted polar bears are left behind lying on the side to pre­vent suf­fo­ca­ti­on, but they are not moni­to­red. Suf­fo­ca­ti­on after chan­ging the posi­ti­on or pre­da­ti­on by other bears can accord­in­gly never be exclu­ded.

Has not sur­vi­ved its mee­ting with sci­en­tists: polar bear at Meod­den, Edgeøya (© foto: Sys­sel­man­nen på Sval­bard).

Polar bear, Meodden, Edgeøya

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Loss due to fewer crui­se ship tou­rists in Ny Åle­sund

Ny Åle­sund has recei­ved con­si­der­ab­ly fewer tou­rists in 2013, com­pa­red to the 2012 sea­son. A year ago, visi­tors num­be­red near 40,000. This figu­re decresed to 25,000 in 2013. Accord­ing to the direc­tor of the owner com­pa­ny, the con­se­quence was a loss of 2 mil­li­on Nor­we­gi­an Kro­ner in har­bour fees and sou­ve­nir sales.

The rea­son is belie­ved to be the expen­si­ve com­pul­so­ry pilo­ta­ge, which is cur­r­ent­ly being intro­du­ced step­wi­se, and the ban of hea­vy oil as ship fuel, alt­hough ships using hea­vy oil may still visit Ny Åle­sund and Mag­da­le­n­efjord until 2014.


Source: Heg­nar (Nor­we­gi­an news web­site)

Green­land shark: high levels of long-lived pol­lut­ants

The Green­land shark is the unknown big ani­mal in mari­ne arc­tic eco­lo­gy. Until recent­ly, sci­en­tists have not spent too much atten­ti­on to this lar­ge shark, and litt­le is accord­in­gly known about them. But during a sci­en­ti­fic catch in Kongsfjord some years ago, sur­pri­sing num­bers were caught: dozens of sharks in a short time. They can be up to 7 m long, which pla­ces them amongst the lar­gest sharks in the world.

Sur­pri­sing was not only the num­ber of sharks pre­sent in the bot­tom waters of Kongsfjord, but also the high levels of long-lived envi­ron­men­tal toxins, which equal the high con­cen­tra­ti­ons sad­ly known from polar bears in Spits­ber­gen.

Ano­t­her sur­pri­se was their diet: the sto­mach con­tent was most­ly fish and seals. Appear­ent­ly, they are effi­ci­ent hun­ters and not just sca­ven­gers, as had been belie­ved until then. The diet is likely to be the rea­son for the high levels of con­ta­mi­nants, which accu­mu­la­te through the food chain and over time. The long life span of Green­land sharks may accord­in­gly be ano­t­her con­tri­bu­ting fac­tor to the high level of con­ta­mi­na­ti­on. During the rese­arch catch, the big­gest indi­vi­du­al caught was as hea­vy as 700 kg, but not even old enough to repro­du­ce.

Green­land shark in nor­thwes­tern Green­land


Source: Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tut


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