Executive Summary for September 2nd

We review the latest Arctic news, including Russian president Vladimir Putin’s call for ‘open and equal dialogue’ in the region, the visit of the Crystal Serenity cruise ship to Nunavut and Statoil of Norway’s announcement of 2017 drilling in the Barents Sea.

Published on Sep. 2, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Putin Declares ‘No Place for Geopolitical Games’ in Arctic

Russian president Vladimir Putin said the Arctic “should be an area for open and equal dialogue,” reported the Independent Barents Observer on Aug. 31.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Russian Security Council, Putin said: “I am convinced that the Arctic should be reinforced as a space for open and equal dialogue based on the principles of universal and indivisible security.” He added: “There is no place for geopolitical games of military blocs, backroom agreements and divisions of spheres of influence.”

Representatives of Arctic Council member and observer states attended the conference aboard the Russian icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory) from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. Arctic shipping, environmental security and international cooperation and tourism were on the agenda.

Meanwhile, a report published this week by the Finnish Institute of Foreign Affairs said that Russia is an increased threat to Finland, highlighting Russia’s politicized energy policy and saying Finland needs to improve its crisis readiness.

Russia has been upgrading its military bases in the Arctic.

Luxury Liner Enters Northwest Passage, Visits Nunavut Hamlet

The Crystal Serenity luxury cruise ship, the largest vessel ever to try to make its way through the Northwest Passage, made a sightseeing stop at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, on Aug. 29.

The 280m (920ft)-long ship, which carries nearly 1,000 passengers and 600 crew, had entered the Northwest Passage the previous evening, reports CBC.

At Cambridge Bay, passengers went ashore in groups of 150 so as not to overwhelm the hamlet, which is home to roughly 1,700 people. Local artists had high hopes of selling their work at the Nunavut Arts Festival to tourists who had paid a minimum of $22,000 for the 32-day cruise.

The liner did not encounter any ice on its way to Cambridge Bay. It is escorted on its voyage by the British icebreaker RSS Ernest Shackleton, which is also equipped for rescue functions.

Statoil to Launch New Drilling Campaign in Barents Sea

Statoil of Norway announced a major 2017 drilling campaign in the Barents Sea on Aug. 30.

The company made its announcement at the ONS (Offshore Northern Seas) oil conference in Stavanger, under the title “Exploration on the Norwegian Continental Shelf needed and necessary – a Barents Sea deep dive.”

In the past few months Statoil has initiated or increased its share in five exploration licenses in the Norwegian parts of the Barents Sea.

One of the proposed drillings, at the Korpfjell formation close to the maritime border with Russia, will be one of the northernmost drillings to date in Norwegian Arctic waters.

There will be a new test well at Goliat, where the current platform – the most northerly offshore oil platform in production in the world – lost power and was evacuated last weekend. It remained out of action this week, prompting Norway to order new measures “to achieve compliance with health, safety and environmental legislation.”

All the proposed drillings are subject to official permissions.

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