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Home → April, 2022

Monthly Archives: April 2022 − News


Fatal snow mobi­le acci­dent on Lon­gyear­breen

On Sunday (10 April) after­noon, an acci­dent hap­pen­ed on Lon­gyear­breen, a gla­cier a few kilo­me­tres south of Lon­gye­ar­by­en, during a snow mobi­le tour. One per­son was severely inju­red and later offi­cial­ly con­fir­med dead.

Offi­cial infor­ma­ti­on that is publi­cal­ly avail­ab­le so far is limi­ted to the fact that the casu­al­ty was a woman who was not a local resi­dent. The acci­dent hap­pen­ed during a pri­va­te snow mobi­le tour. So far, the­re is no infor­ma­ti­on avail­ab­le regar­ding the acci­dent cau­se.

Lon­gyear­breen is a com­mon snow mobi­le rou­te, and traf­fic the­re is fre­quent during the sea­son.

Snow mobile accident, Longyearbreen

Lower Lon­gyear­breen. This is the area whe­re the fatal snow mobi­le acci­dent hap­pen­ed yes­ter­day after­noon (pho­to taken in late March 2022).

P.S. in an ear­lier ver­si­on of this arti­cle it was writ­ten that the casu­al­ty was tra­vel­ling with a gui­ded group. This was not cor­rect. She was tra­vel­ling with a group with both local and non-local mem­bers.

Com­ple­ti­on: On Mon­day, the name of the casu­al­ty was released by the aut­ho­ri­ties after con­sul­ta­ti­on with her fami­ly. It was a Nor­we­gi­an woman from Trond­heim.

Sanc­tions will hit Bar­ents­burg

The inter­na­tio­nal sanc­tions intro­du­ced by many coun­tries as a reac­tion to the Rus­si­an war of aggres­si­on and exter­mi­na­ti­on against the Ukrai­ne will also hit the Rus­si­an north inclu­ding Bar­ents­burg.

Mur­mansk is Russia’s most important har­bour for coal export. Accord­ing to Bar­ents Obser­ver, years of signi­fi­cant growth resul­ted in export of more than 16 mil­li­on tons in 2019. Most of the coal was expor­ted to the EU – main­ly Ger­ma­ny – the UK and Isra­el. The growth led to plans for a new coal har­bour in Lav­na on the Kola pen­in­su­la. The cur­rent deve­lo­p­ment invol­ves major ques­ti­on­marks for this pro­ject.

Com­pa­red to the Mur­mansk exports, coal pro­duc­tion in and ship­ping from Bar­ents­burg is small, and irrele­vant to the world mar­ket. A bit more than 100,000 tons are pro­du­ced annu­al­ly in Bar­ents­burg, of which some­thing near 30,000 tons are used in the local coal power plant and the rest is for export. The­se exports are glo­bal­ly insi­gni­fi­cant, but nevertheless important for Bar­ents­burg in terms of eco­no­my and jobs. Of near 400 inha­bi­tants, around 150 are working in the coal mine, inclu­ding many Ukrai­ni­ans.

Coal mining, Barentsburg

Coal sto­rage and indus­try rela­ted to coal mining in Bar­ents­burg: inter­na­tio­nal sanc­tions will hit here as well.

Coal from Bar­ents­burg was main­ly sold to the UK in recent years, but it appears very unli­kely that the United King­dom will con­ti­nue this tra­de. This would severely dama­ge a major part of Barentsburg’s eco­no­mi­c­al foun­da­ti­on. Tou­rism has been deve­lo­ped in Bar­ents­burg in recent years, but this indus­tri­al sec­tor has lar­ge­ly col­lap­sed during the last two years becau­se of the pan­de­mic and now becau­se of the war and asso­cia­ted sanc­tions, lea­ving coal mining as the only indus­try in Bar­ents­burg.

Irri­ta­ting inter­view of the Rus­si­an con­sul in Bar­ents­burg

Last week – befo­re the pic­tures of the cru­el­ties in But­cha went around the world – the Rus­si­an con­sul in Bar­ents­burg irri­ta­ted the public with an inter­view with Nor­we­gi­an media (nettavisen.no) say­ing the images of the exten­si­ve dest­ruc­tions in Mariu­pol were in some cases sta­ged and in other cases fake. He cal­led wes­tern media “fake news”, espe­cial­ly refer­ring to Nor­we­gi­an media, while pre­ten­ding that Rus­si­an infor­ma­ti­on is true. The arti­cle by net­ta­vi­sen is Nor­we­gi­an, but near the end it inclu­des a video of the inter­view with the con­sul in Eng­lish.

The inha­bi­tants of Bar­ents­burg seem to avoid poli­ti­cal dis­cus­sions both amongst each other and with media, as NRK found out during a visit to the sett­le­ment.

Cha­ri­ty: a heart for the Ukrai­ne – hand­ma­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

As a cha­ri­ty, you can buy a pin in the shape a heart in the colours of the Ukrai­ne in the spitsbergen-svalbard.com web­shop. The pins are hand­ma­de in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and the ent­i­re returns are cha­ri­ty for vic­tims of the Rus­si­an war against the Ukrai­ne. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on.

Cus­toms con­trols in Spits­ber­gen – becau­se of Rus­si­an war against the Ukrai­ne

So far, the­re have not been any cus­toms con­trols in Spits­ber­gen. The­re was just no need: due to the regu­la­ti­ons of the Spits­ber­gen Trea­ty, taxes are redu­ced. The­re is no value-added tax and no import taxes. Hence, the­re were no cus­toms con­trols.

This is about to chan­ge.

Longyearbyen airport, customs control

Lon­gye­ar­by­en air­port: no cus­toms con­trol, just a polar bear.
This will chan­ge soon (no, the polar bear is not about to disap­pe­ar).

The back­ground is the Rus­si­an war of aggres­si­on against the Ukrai­ne and the inter­na­tio­nal sanc­tions intro­du­ced in that con­text. Nor­way wants to make sure that Rus­sia does not use Spits­ber­gen as a logisti­cal loo­p­ho­le to import goods that are sanc­tion­ed. This could be pos­si­ble becau­se the­re is no con­trol of goods com­ing to Spits­ber­gen and the­re is ship traf­fic bet­ween the Rus­si­an sett­le­ment Bar­ents­burg and Rus­sia.

This is about to chan­ge. The Nor­we­gi­an government inst­ruc­ted the tax aut­ho­ri­ties to estab­lish a local pre­sence and main­tain con­trols as necessa­ry, accord­ing to NRK. Cus­toms con­trols are announ­ced to be in place alrea­dy in ear­ly May.

It is also announ­ced that this mea­su­re is not plan­ned to be per­ma­nent, but will be main­tai­ned as long as the­re is a need.

Polar bear warning sys­tem to be released

Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties have announ­ced a polar bear warning sys­tem in coope­ra­ti­on with the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te and Elon Musk’s satel­li­te-based com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on sys­tem Star­link.

As a first step, the who­le popu­la­ti­on of Spitsbergen’s polar bears will recei­ved micro­chips pro­vi­ded by Bill Gates. The­se chips inclu­de a micro-sen­der that sends signals that will be picked up by the Star­link satel­li­tes and for­war­ded to through ground sta­ti­ons to the Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te in real time. As a result, the posi­ti­on of each and every sin­gle polar bear in Spits­ber­gen will be known at any time.

Polar bear with sender

Fema­le polar bear with tra­cker. The new genera­ti­on of sen­ders will be much smal­ler, which is also expec­ted to signi­fi­cant­ly impro­ve the well-being of the ani­mals.

The public, howe­ver, will not have access to the data set as such, but users can down­load an app that works in a simi­lar way as the coro­na-warn-apps, informing the user when a polar bear is in the vicini­ty. Fee-paying users of the pro ver­si­on can even use a func­tion to let the micro­chips instal­led in the ears of the bear blink bright­ly, to make it easier to see the approa­ching bear in the field – a fea­ture espe­cial­ly use­ful during the polar night. All ver­si­ons of the app will pro­du­ce a loud warning signal when a polar bear approa­ches wit­hin 5 metres.

In the future it is plan­ned to deve­lop the sys­tem fur­ther so that the beha­viour of polar bears can be con­trol­led through the app, for examp­le to make aggres­si­ve polar bears turn around and walk away peace­ful­ly.

The first ver­si­on of the app is cur­r­ent­ly under deve­lo­p­ment. The release of the final ver­si­on is sche­du­led for April 01, 2222. It will then not be avail­ab­le here in the Spitsbergen-Svalbard.com web­shop.

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News-Listing live generated at 2022/August/19 at 13:21:24 Uhr (GMT+1)
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