According to Teknisk Ukeblad, Norway plans to nominate parts of the Svalbard archipelago to the prestigious UN protection list. In addition, a new management plan for the area includes expanded environmental regulations for the area.
Oil industry representatives now voice skepticism about the status of the islands, which are located in strategic Arctic waters. Stricter environmental regulations could affect future development of local oil and gas-related logistics, bases and supply facilities, they argue.
“The protection of the waters east of Svalbard would conflict with important Norwegian geopolitical, industrial and economic interests, Johan Petter Barlindhaug, Board Chairman of the North Energy company, says to TU.no.
In connection with the plans for a Unesco nomination, the Norwegian Ministry of Energy and Petroluem is now starting up an assessment study on the islands’ potentials in future oil and gas projects. If the northern parts of the Barents Sea are opened for drilling, Svalbard might be strategically well situated for base functions.
As previously reported, Norway’s Minister of Petroluem and Energy has on several occasions expressed interest in expanding drilling “to the North Pole”.
Polar areas are currently little represented in the Unesco’s World Heritage list. So far, only the Wrangle islands and the Ilulissat Isfjord are on the list, the UN organization informs. The Norwegian Ministry of Environment in 2007 proposed to include Svalbard in the UNtentative list of new protection sites.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal today leaves port of Murmansk for a two-month expedition to the Russian Arctic. The aim for the expedition is to study ice and weather conditions in the area to prepare for future oil and gas projects.
The National Archives Service of Finland and the Sámi Archives have proposed including the Skolt Sámi archives in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Only 301 items have been listed in the register so far.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.