Posts Tagged ‘north pole’

Arctic oil drill splits Norway’s government

March 14, 2011

Euractiv.com 14 March 2011 -original article here

Norway’s Labour-led coalition government is preparing for crisis talks after one of its parties, the Socialist Left (SV), pledged to hold out against oil drilling in the pristine Lofoten region.

The oil industry views the untapped waters around the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands as one of the best remaining prospects off Norway, the world’s fifth biggest oil exporter, whose output has fallen by a third in the past decade. But Norway’s green and socialist movements oppose oil and gas activities in the region, which is home to Europe’s largest cod stock and unique cold water reefs.

A decision on whether to order an impact assessment study for drilling in Lofoten – the most divisive issue in Norwegian politics – is due within weeks. On March 9, Labour MPs asked Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to negotiate a way out of the stalemate with SV, possibly by changing the study’s name or tweaking its scope. But the Socialists rejected this. “We can’t accept any study that leads to opening the region for oil and gas activities,” SV’s energy spokesman Snorre Valen told Reuters. “We simply won’t compromise on this.”

Oil industry pressure
The ruling coalition has survived for six years, partly by delaying decisions on the Lofotens. But pressure from the oil industry, trades unions and some local people is forcing Labour to move on the issue. The SV environment minister Erik Solheim played down the chances of a government collapse to the Aftenposten newspaper.

“The government has for the past six years shown a phenomenal ability to survive. We have like Lazarus risen from the dead, and several times at that,” he was reported saying. Norway’s oil row comes as a report by the US National Academy of Sciences warns of a new struggle for oil and gas resources in the Arctic by 2030. Melting ice cover due to climate change will upset the Arctic power balance and intensify unresolved disputes among countries with Arctic borders. These include Norway, the US, Canada, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Sweden and Finland.

“The geopolitical situation in the Arctic region has become complex and nuanced, despite the area being essentially ignored since the end of the Cold War,” the study says. It predicts a low chance of conflict but cautions that that “co-operation in the Arctic should not be considered a given even among close allies.”

(EurActiv with Reuters.)

Background

The resource-rich Arctic is becoming increasingly contentious as climate change endangers many species of the region’s flora and fauna but also makes the region more navigable. Up to 25% of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas could be located there, according to the US Geological Survey.

No country owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic surrounding it. The surrounding Arctic states of the USA, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland) have a 200 nautical mile economic zone around their coasts.

In August 2007, a Russian icebreaker reached the North Pole and a Russian mini-submarine planted a titanium Russian flag on the seabed there. The move was widely interpreted as a bellicose claim by Russia to the North Pole seabed and its resources.

Norway covers between 10 and 18% of EU oil demand and about 15% of its natural gas. The country, a member of the European Economic Area since 1994, is the world’s third largest exporter of oil and gas after Saudi Arabia and Russia.

By 2015-2020, natural gas deliveries from Norway to the EU are expected to grow from 85 billion cubic metres to 120 bcm, covering 7-9% of the EU’s entire gas consumption by 2020.

Russia to Resolute: explorers plan to drive over top of the world to North Pole

February 20, 2011

Original article here

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.

But Glan said one of the main reasons for the trip is to get people excited about the Arctic and Arctic exploration. The Russia-to-Resolute drive is one leg in a multi-year project to retrace the steps of early explorers and to link circumpolar nations with a thin strand of tire tracks on the ice.

“It will help to promote activities in the Arctic and maintain interest in that,” Glan said. “It helps attract attention to the history of Arctic exploration.

“Our goal is to promote it to attract attention, to make it interesting for people. This is a good eye-catcher.”

Those aren’t the only reasons to go, of course.

“Some people ask, ‘Why do you want to do that?’ Other people, they don’t have to ask,” said Glan.

“It’s exploration. It’s adventure. It’s a great thing.”

The team, funded by a variety of Russian corporations and foundations, hopes to arrive in Resolute by late May or early June.It plans to complete the circle in 2014 by driving from Resolute along the Alaskan coast back to Russia.

Glan said Polar Ring has filled in all the necessary paperwork to cross the border into Canada.

Content Provided By Canadian Press.

 

Russia’s Arctic expedition heads for Murmansk

June 7, 2010


THE “ROSSIA” ICEBREAKER, June 6 (Itar-Tass) – Russia’s “High-Latitude Arctic” expedition is heading for the northern port of Murmansk.

Russian polar explorers, members of the “High-Latitude Arctic-2010” expedition and the crew of the icebreaker ‘Rossia’ officially closed the North Pole – 37 drifting station in the Arctic on Saturday.

“Over the past nine months fifteen polar explorers represented the interests of Russia and the whole mankind in the extremely harsh conditions of the Arctic,” Vladimir Sokolov, the head of the high-latitude expedition, said.

“The scientists who worked on the North Pole –37 Arctic station have done a huge amount of work vital for the development of science and the exploration of the Arctic. The research they carried out is particularly important in conditions of changing climate,” Sokolov went on to say.

Original article here

Russia paratroopers head towards North Pole

April 9, 2010

Barents Observer 2009-07-29
A group of Russian paratroopers will next April land at the North Pole. Head of the Russian Airborne Forces insists that the mission will not stir military tensions in the area. The mission to the North Pole will be conducted in connection with the 60-years anniversary of the first parachute landing on pole, and is organized together with Artur Chilingarov, the Russian President’s special representative for Arctic and Antarctic issues. Leader of the Russian Airborne Forces, General Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov, says to RBC.ru that that the operation will not stir military tensions in the Arctic. On the contrary, Mr. Shamanov maintains that the paratrooper operation is a “demilitarizing mission”. -We do not intend to engage in rattling, we only intend to make a peaceful visit to the North Pole, he says. At the same time, he does however admit that the visit is linked with the growing international focus on the area and with the protection of Russian national interests. -Today, when the issue of protection of national interest in the northern direction, a working group on the organization of the trip has been established together with Artur Chilingarov, he says to RBC. Russia has previously been accused for contributing to a militarization of the Arctic, partly because a recent Security Council document proposes to establish special forces for the area. Kremlin and government leaders still stress however that the country has no intention whatsoever to militarize the region.

Original article here