Arctic opens new business opportunities

A Lastest News about Transportation and Storage in Finland

Posted on: 28 Oct 2011

Turning the Northern Sea Route into a key commercial route would open new opportunities for Finnish-Russian techno-economic cooperation.

Object 1 25 October 2011 With temperatures rising at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the Arctic has undergone some of the most rapid transformations on the planet, most notably the unprecedented loss of sea ice, and accelerated melting of glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet. © Erectus Arctic ? an opportunity for Finnish-Russian cooperation Turning the Northern Sea Route into a key commercial route - capable in competing with traditional sea and rail routes in transport cost, safety and quality - is of importance for the international transport and the development of the Arctic regions. One of the main challenges is to preserve the vulnerable environment and to ensure sustainable and equitable development of the local communities. The development efforts would open new opportunities for Finnish-Russian techno-economic cooperation. Air temperatures in the Arctic increase twice as fast as the global average. Satellite images show that ice recedes towards North Pole at a rate of 5 percent per decade. Submarine observations show that the ice was thinned by 40 percent over the last two decades. Arctic sea ice extent for September 2010 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.89 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Credit: NSIDC Previously frozen areas in the Arctic sea are becoming seasonally or permanently navigable for sevaral months in a year, increasing the prospects for marine transport through the Arctic. A similar development is taking place also in the North-West Passage via the Canadian and the Alaskan arctic coastline. Since the beginning of this August the icebreaker-free sailing has been open on almost all the parts of the Northern Sea Route. The mild conditions would last through September on shipping lanes from the West to Asia, according to the Russian climate monitoring agency. Though for today northern sea route opens only for some weeks in a year. This year shipping may reach 700,000 tons, according to a Russian tentative estimate. Using this route at that time can already considerable reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. But the use of icebreakers to support and secure transports and to extend the navigation season will be important for a several decades to come. For instance, a voyage from London to Japan via the A route along the Russian Arctic coast from the Suez Canal covering 20,300 km takes 35 days. The Barents Sea, along Siberia to the Far East. Graph: distance via the North-East passage is only 13,000 km Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal and would take around 22 days. By using this alternative, states and private companies will gain tangible economic benefits. Climate change, which is gradually increasing the navigation period, and technical progress are paving the way to new and still unexplored areas of the Far North - a part of Russia beyond the Arctic Circle - where economic activity is likely to grow. But the increased human activity in the region changes the conditions of life for local communities and especially indigenous peoples, and can potentially threaten the vulnerable environment. The Arctic region is increasingly becoming the focus of attention because of its key role in the climate change process and of its wealth in natural resources. "Science-based information and efficient dialogues with local inhabitants and stakeholders for knowledgeable decisions related to the Arctic is the key factor of sustainable development and environmental protection of the region," says Professor Paula Kankaanpää, Director of Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Finland. Forums for promoting Arctic cooperation The Arctic is comprised of territories governed by eight countries Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Sweden, and Finland. The Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum, promotes cooperation, coordination, and interaction among Arctic states and indigenous peoples. Several other international forums with regional or broader European interests also address economic, social, and environmental issues that often relate to the Arctic. These include, for instance, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and the Northern Dimension (ND) - a policy framework involving European Union states, plus Iceland, Norway, and Russia. Since 2000, the ND has fostered partnerships for programs on public health and social well-being, culture, transport and logistics, and the environment. For example, in the Baltic and Barents seas region the ND sponsors projects for water and wastewater treatment, management of municipal and agricultural waste, energy efficiency, and nuclear safety projects for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management. Arctic states also enter various bilateral or multilateral pacts including maritime delimitation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean, illegal fishing, and polar bear protection. Russia's comprehensive development plans Russia is developing international cooperation on exploration of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and also plans to create special economic zones for port construction projects with particular preferences from authorities and potential tax incentives from the state. "We plan to carry out a series of measures to develop the Northern Sea Route. A draft law is designed to regulate all NSR navigation issues. The Duma is expected to pass it before the end of this year," said Prime Minister Vladimir Putin when speaking at the International Arctic Forum "The Arctic ? Territory of Dialogue" in September 2011. According to Prime Minister Putin, Russia aims to: *expand existing ports and build new ones, for instance the Port of Varandei by the Yugorsky Shar Strait and the Sabetta Port on the Yamal Peninsula - the NSR and its major harbours will be integrated with other modes of transport; *upgrade river, car and railway routes and communications with northern airfields, airports and polar aviation; *expand the country's ice-breaker fleet currently consisting of 10 ice-breakers by building three all- purpose nuclear-powered icebreakers and six diesel-electric ones before 2020; *continue working to develop systems of communication, navigation and hydrography in the Arctic, primarily with the using of Russia's global positioning system; *develop a multi-purpose Arctic satellite system that will monitor the environment of the Far North; *build a system of warning, monitoring and responding for natural and man-made disasters in Russia's Arctic zone, including 10 all-purpose rescue centres in the Far North by 2015. In addition, specialists are already working on a project to create the "North Pole" ice-resistant observatory platform. © Arctic Centre © Aker Arctic Technology Finnish experience and knowledge "Finnish companies and institutions have experience and knowledge on many fields of the Russian development program described above," says Professor Pauli Jumppanen. He has worked since early 1980s for Finnish- Russian economic and technological co-operation concentrating mainly on oil, natural gas forest industry and energy development. Since 1996, he has been the Finnish chairman of the Finland- Komi Working Group. According to Professor Jumppanen, the most promising cooperation fields include: * Construction (offshore & onshore) of the northern harbors with adjacent services and communities * Design and construction of icebreakers and ice-going vessels * Navigation in arctic conditions with safety, monitoring and awakening systems * Technologies for arctic environment monitoring and protection in the construction and transport operations * ICT systems for remote & isolated communities, building sites etc. * Construction and maintaining of roads and railroads in northern (arctic & subarctic) conditions * Management and combined use of different marine and land-based (road & railroad) logistics systems in the North Co-operation between Finland and Russia on many of the fields listed above has a history of several decades. Balancing economy and the environment Russia started to develop the Arctic continental shelf already in 1980s. In the near future, it is likely contain the commissioning of the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea and the development of hydrocarbon resources in the Kara Sea and on the Yamal Peninsula. The hydrocarbon exploration should last the next 25-50 years. According to Prime Minister Putin, Russia will continue playing an active role in developing and consolidating the international legal foundation for the Arctic, in particular, the agreement on oil pollution prevention and control, which is currently under development. He said that this entirely new field of international cooperation is extremely important. ?All our plans will be carried out in compliance with the toughest environmental standards. A careful, civilized attitude to nature is a requirement of all the development programs,? the Prime Minister stressed. ?Active economic development of the Arctic will be beneficial only if we maintain a rational balance between economic interests and environmental protection for the long term, not just for 10, 15 or 20 years. Clean-up operation launched in problem zones Russia's position is borne out partly by its participation in the Arctic Council's first collective fund, an instrument of financial support for environmental initiatives, including those aimed at dealing with Arctic problem zones. Russia has already launched a general clean-up operation in the Far North and the Russian Arctic. It will do the same on the Wrangel Island and Russian villages in Spitsbergen. Implementation of these proposals will not only improve the Arctic environment but also allow us to develop unique technology for reclaiming polluted territories. ?Environmental protection should become a key theme of our activities in the Far North because for all its severity, the Arctic has the most fragile ecosystem on our planet. The price of a negligent, careless attitude towards the Arctic is very high and the consequences disastrous,? Prime Minister Putin said. Related: St Petersburg's ecocity planning concept ready for implementation Finland and Russia agree on a modernization partnership Russia to build Artic environment research center Finnish-Russian presidential talks urge cooperation on Baltic Sea Finnish-Komi bioenergy cooperation advances
Posted: 28 October 2011

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