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Home → December, 2023

Monthly Archives: December 2023 − News & Stories

My own review Spits­ber­gen 2023 – hap­py new year!

Wat­ching the big wide world in 2023 was in part pret­ty pain­ful. Going fur­ther into that is not what I want to do here – that is done by others else­whe­re. And in con­trast, it is quite a plea­su­re for me to look back at my own year 2023, loo­king at “my” litt­le arc­tic world. From the begin­ning in the polar night to the first miles under sail with Mean­der in Nor­way to a long, beau­tiful arc­tic sum­mer in Spits­ber­gen, with good old Anti­gua, witht the beau­tiful Mean­der and the adven­tur­ous Arc­ti­ca II. And final­ly back to a lot of dark­ness – beau­tiful light, that is! – in main­land Nor­way.

I want to use the oppor­tu­ni­ty once again to thank ever­y­bo­dy who was part of this big jour­ney and who con­tri­bu­ted to making it so much fun! Big thanks to all of you, to fel­low tra­vel­lers, cap­ta­ins and crews, offices, fri­ends and fami­ly.

And now I am loo­king for­ward to 2024, to more time spent up north, to a lot of beau­ty and exci­ting expe­ri­en­ces shared with good peo­p­le. We will see what the year brings – it is the last year of the Anti­gua up north, and it may be the last year we can sail in Spits­ber­gen with the free­dom (within good regu­la­ti­on!) that we have enjoy­ed so far. Stran­ge­ly, we still don’t know when and how this will chan­ge. So the­re is not­hing real­ly to add to the update from Janu­ary 2023.

But in any case, I am very con­fi­dent that the sum­mer of 2024 will bring a lot of arc­tic natu­re and beau­ty.

I want to thank the year 2023 and all who were and are a part of it with this gal­lery of impres­si­ons. Tho­se who were with me on one or the other trip may reco­gni­ze good memo­ries … and for tho­se who were not on board, I hope you enjoy the pho­tos nevert­hel­ess. They are not neces­s­a­ri­ly all the 5 star num­ber one calen­dar pic­tu­re choice images, but rather repre­sen­ta­ti­ve of my own expe­ri­ence, enjoy­ing the wild beau­ty in silence and often in places that few peo­p­le ever have heard about, let alo­ne been to.


With all this said, I wish you a hap­py near year 2024! May it bring peace to the world, at least some more than the pre­vious two years … 🙏

Spits­ber­gen review of (gal­lery)

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Ener­gy pri­ces in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on the rise

Ener­gy pri­ces are a mat­ter of deba­te in many count­ries and places. Lon­gye­ar­by­en is no excep­ti­on.

A new ener­gy solu­ti­on to replace the old coal-fired power plant has been dis­cus­sed in Lon­gye­ar­by­en for many years. In Octo­ber, the coal plant was final­ly taken out of ser­vice and repla­ced with die­sel gene­ra­tors. The­se are, on the long term, to be repla­ced with more envi­ron­men­tal­ly fri­end­ly, rene­wa­ble ener­gy sources – that is, at least, the idea.

Longyearbyen, coal power plant

Longyearbyen’s old coal power plant was taken out of ser­vice in Octo­ber 2023.

That is an expen­si­ve pro­cess for a small town. Ener­gy has always been expen­si­ve in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, and a signi­fi­cant pri­ce rise is to come soon.

In order to save smal­ler cus­to­mers from incre­asing cos­ts, the com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil Lon­gye­ar­by­en Lokals­ty­re has deci­ded to pass the pri­ce rise on to the four lar­gest ener­gy buy­ers. The­se are Avi­nor (air­port), KSAT (satel­li­te anten­nas on Pla­tå­berg), Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kul­kom­pa­ni (mining, the housing sec­tion is not con­cer­ned) and Forskningsparken/UNIS (sci­ence). Next to size and high ener­gy con­sump­ti­on, the­se four have in com­mon that they are all sta­te-con­trol­led.

As could be expec­ted, the idea of being the only pay­ers for hig­her ener­gy pri­ces is not met with gre­at enthu­si­asm by the­se four. KSAT CEO Ole Kok­vik has said that KSAT may have to con­sider other loca­ti­ons in the future, a solu­ti­on that is unli­kely to work for the air­port. Store Nor­ske may recon­sider the ope­ra­ti­on of mine 7. Curr­ent­ly, it is plan­ned to remain in pro­duc­tion until the sum­mer of 2025.

The dis­cus­sion is cle­ar­ly not over yet.

Nor­we­gi­an die­sel sold to Rus­si­an fishing ships

Nor­we­gi­an die­sel for Rus­si­an ships? That was com­mon prac­ti­ce until just a few weeks ago. The ships in need for fuel did not sail to Nor­we­gi­an ports such as Lon­gye­ar­by­en, but the floa­ting fuel sta­ti­ons came to them, at sea – in shape of bun­ker ves­sels on the Barents Sea, both on the Nor­we­gi­an and on the Rus­si­an side of the mari­ti­me bor­der, accor­ding to AIS data of Nor­we­gi­an bun­ker ships.

This attrac­ted a lot of public atten­ti­on when it beca­me public in Novem­ber, with a wide agree­ment that this prac­ti­ce is unwan­ted seen in the light of the Rus­si­an war against the Ukrai­ne. Major sup­pli­ers on the Nor­we­gi­an mar­ket quick­ly distanced them­sel­ves from this trade and con­firm­ed not to deli­ver to Rus­si­an cus­to­mers, but could not gua­ran­tee this for smal­ler in-bet­ween dis­tri­bu­tors.

Russian ships, Bellsund

Fishing ships pre­fer to get sup­pli­es near the fishing grounds, rather than sai­ling to a distant ports. This image shows two Rus­si­an ships exchan­ging fish and goods in Bell­sund.

In ear­ly Decem­ber, the Nor­we­gi­an minis­try of for­eign affairs con­firm­ed that it is for­bidden for Nor­we­gi­an ships to sup­p­ly Rus­si­an ships at sea with fuel, as Sval­bard­pos­ten wro­te. This includes inter­na­tio­nal and Rus­si­an waters. To ful­fill old con­tracts, deli­veries were under cer­tain con­di­ti­ons legal until ear­ly March 2023 but not any­mo­re later. Sin­ce then, Rus­si­an ships can only buy Nor­we­gi­an fuel for their own use in cer­tain Nor­we­gi­an ports (Lon­gye­ar­by­en, Båts­fjord, Kir­kenes and Trom­sø). This is hard­ly attrac­ti­ve for most fishing ships as they don’t want to lea­ve their ope­ra­ting are­as.

Any deli­very at sea by Nor­we­gi­an ships to Rus­si­an cus­to­mers is, in other words, ille­gal sin­ce March. Sup­pli­ers who nevert­hel­ess deli­ver­ed die­sel bet­ween March and Novem­ber appear to have been una­wa­re or con­fu­sed about the legal situa­ti­on.

Ant­ark­ti­kos: excel­lent rea­ding mate­ri­als about the other end of the world

This does not have any­thing to do with Spits­ber­gen, but for all enthu­si­asts of the polar regi­ons – north and south – Ant­ark­ti­kos is som real­ly good food for brain, eye and soul.

Ant­ark­ti­kos is a maga­zi­ne that has set a high stan­dards with regards to both con­tents and lay­out with the first edi­ti­on two years ago. It is not ano­ther one of the usu­al glos­sy maga­zi­nes that come every month or so with the usu­al tra­vel sto­ries and packed witih adver­ti­sing – no, it is actual­ly quite the con­tra­ry: full of inte­res­t­ing con­tri­bu­ti­on cove­ring a wide ran­ge of sub­jects from sci­ence to art and a lot of other stuff on eit­her side of the­se, with a lay­out that makes it a plea­su­re to read. And inde­ed no adver­ti­sing. That does set a high level, inde­ed.

Antarktikos, Antarctic magazine

The first edi­ti­on of “Ant­ark­ti­kos”
(and this aut­hor, spon­ta­neous­ly and bad­ly pho­to­gra­phed by hims­elf …).

The second edi­ti­on is about to be released now in Decem­ber. And to make ends meet, the­re is a crowd­fun­ding cam­pa­gin going until tomor­row (Satur­day, 2 Decem­ber) on Kick­star­ter – a few Euro are still miss­ing, come on, let’s get that done! Ever­y­thing is pos­si­ble, from sim­ply orde­ring the second edi­ti­on for a too cheap pri­ce of 15 Euro to sub­stan­ti­al sup­port.

I am in, with plea­su­re.


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