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Executive Summary for March 31st

We review the latest Arctic news, including a big gathering of Arctic experts in the Russian port city of Arkhangelsk, the economic obstacles faced by boosters of U.S. Arctic offshore drilling, and plans for Arctic coast guards to team up.

Published on March 31, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Russia Holds Arctic Shindig

Russia staged a big conference on Arctic issues in Arkhangelsk this week. More than 1,500 visitors attended the International Arctic Forum, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The forum also welcomed top officials from other countries, including Icelandic president Guðni Jóhannesson and Finnish president Sauli Niinistö. Also in attendance were the foreign ministers of Norway and Denmark. Both countries froze high-level political talks with Russia following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and this is the first time their foreign ministers have visited Russia since then. Observers saw the forum as an opportunity for Russia to help mend its relationship with its European neighbours following the fall-out over Crimea.

U.S. Arctic Offshore Oil Faces Economic Obstacles

The new U.S. administration is pushing ahead with efforts to encourage oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters. That’s despite oil companies’ and analysts’ coolness to the idea.

As Foreign Policy reports, the U.S. shale gas revolution has undercut pricier endeavours such as exploring for oil in the Arctic. Former president Barack Obama’s move to block offshore oil exploration in most U.S. Arctic waters poses another obstacle.

“We think there is almost no rationale for Arctic exploration,” a Goldman Sachs analyst told CNBC recently. “Immensely complex, expensive projects like the Arctic we think can move too high on the cost curve to be economically doable.”

Arctic Coast Guards Team Up

Arctic nations have struck an agreement on coast guard collaboration. The pact was reached during a meeting of the Arctic Coast Guard Forum in Boston on March 24.

As the Boston Globe reports, the forum was established in 2015 to help Arctic nations work together in the event of Arctic shipping spills and other maritime disasters. The agreement is spurred by the growing number of shipping companies and cruise ships operating in the region and includes the coast guards of the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Russia.

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