Executive Summary for January 20th

We review and analyze the latest news and most important developments in the Arctic, including Norway’s approval for drilling to begin in the Barents Sea and a report suggesting that the quality of life of Canada’s northern communities could be improved with investments in resource development.

Published on Jan. 20, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Norway Approves World’s Northernmost Oil Field

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has given the Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni approval to begin drilling in the Goliat field in Norway’s Barents Sea, the Wall Street Journal reported. The production vessel, which has suffered two years of delays and cost overruns, could begin pumping oil as early as next month.

The floating oil platform is set to become the world’s northernmost oil production vessel. It will pump and process up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day from 11 subsea production wells and store nearly a million barrels of oil, according to National Geographic. The field reserves are estimated at 174 million barrels.

Eni has a 65 percent stake in Goliat, with Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company, holding the remainder. Analysts have put the break-even point for production from the field at more than $100 a barrel, the WSJ article said.

Production at the field had been delayed several times, reported the Independent Barents Observer. The PSA had requested additional documentation on safety and critical equipment, the article said.

Meanwhile, Statoil has been awarded interest in 24 licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf, both as operator and partner – in the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. This is the largest number of licenses it has ever received, said Offshore Engineer.

Improve Northern Quality of Life with Resource Development, Says Aboriginal Think-tank

A Canadian aboriginal development think-tank has said resource development could improve the quality of life for people living in the country’s northern regions, reported CBC News.

In a report released Wednesday, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board said the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut lacked communications, transportation and energy infrastructure. Investments in those areas would make Canada’s North more attractive to natural resource development and improve the region’s economy, according to the article.

An analysis of eight northern development projects found that for every C$1 invested, C$22 in economic benefits were returned. The report suggested governments provide companies with tax credits and that a new northern infrastructure investment fund should be created.

CBC News also reported that sagging copper prices will mean job layoffs at a mine located 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Whitehorse, Yukon. Capstone Mining Corporation, based in Vancouver, calls it a temporary closure, influenced by commodity prices. The Minto mine will continue to process ore into 2017; it is expected to produce 27,000 tonnes of copper in 2016.

Refugees Denied Stay in Norway Returned to Russia

Refugees and migrants who entered Norway from Murmansk, Russia, have been bussed back to Russia, reported the Independent Barents Observer. Thirteen single men were aboard the bus that left the reception center at Kirkenes, according to a Guardian article.

The article said human rights groups in Norway are concerned that Russia may deport some refugees, such as Syrians, back to war zones. Norway’s integration minister, Sylvi Listhaug, believes they will be safe.

The fear of being deported has led about 40 people to flee an asylum center in Vadso, Norway, reported Deutsche Welle. About 30 people, including children, started a hunger strike on Monday, which ended that evening, according to Newsweek.

Thousands of people used the so-called Arctic route last year to make their way to Europe from Russia, often on bicycles.

Recommended Reading

Top image: The 65,000-ton Goliat floating oil rig has been approved to start drilling in the Barents Sea, farther north than any oil-producing platform. (Flickr/Anders Mildestveit/TV2)