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Executive Summary for August 12th

In this weekly roundup, we review and analyze the latest news and key developments in the Arctic, including an airship network to connect Siberia to Europe and a new marine observatory to study Arctic oil spills.

Published on Aug. 12, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Arctic Research Finds Home in Churchill Marine Observatory

A new marine observatory focused on Arctic research is being planned for Churchill, Manitoba, the Canadian Press reports.

The provincial government has set aside up to C$9 million (about U.S. $7 million) for the construction of the research center, which will study environmental change and the environmental impacts of economic development in the Canadian North. Arctic oil spills will be among the projects taken on by the observatory, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.

Manitoba’s funding announcement was the final piece of the multimillion-dollar project supported by three provinces and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the article said. CFI is covering nearly 40 percent of the C$31.7 million (US$24.5 million) proposal, which has been spearheaded by the University of Manitoba. It also involves the University of Calgary, the University of British Columbia and Polar Knowledge Canada.

The announcement comes shortly after the closure of the Port of Churchill, a remote town of about 800 people on the shores of Hudson Bay.

Russia Proposes Airship Transport to Connect Siberia

The Russian Security Council has put forth a plan to invest $240 billion into transportation corridors and airships that will link Siberia and the Arctic to Europe, reports the Independent Barents Observer.

Under the plan, passengers and cargo would travel between ports along the Northern Sea Route and the Trans-Siberian Railway, reported Sputnik. One airship costs about $30 million and could replace five Mi-8 helicopters, which are now used in the North.

Others have also proposed using airships to transport goods to remote communities in the Arctic. Without roads, many communities rely on barges and cargo ships to transport goods, including food and building materials. But ships are expensive and can be waylaid by ice conditions and poor weather. Companies – and governments – have started to consider using hybrid airships instead.

Earlier this week, the Airlander 10, a prototype for a 92-meter-long (302-foot-long) airship was unveiled in the U.K. in preparation for its first flight, Reuters reported. Other companies, including LTA Aerostructures of Montreal, are also interested in Arctic possibilities, the Economist reported in June.

Statoil Boosts CO2 Storage at Arctic Snøhvit Field

The Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil will inject more carbon dioxide into the Snøhvit field in the Barents Sea to add gas to the liquefied natural gas facility in Hammerfest, reported UPI.

The company has stored more than 4 million tons of CO2 into a subsea reservoir since its operations began in 2007. That reservoir is now approaching capacity, which required the drilling of a new well, reported the Independent Barents Observer.

Snøhvit is the only offshore LNG project in the Arctic and the world’s only LNG project to capture and store CO2, according to the articles. Snøhvit is thought to hold as much as 525 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and more than 130 million barrels of oil.

Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said this week that it had boosted production in its Arctic Prirazlomnoye field, UPI reported.

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