The vessel ”Artemis Atlantic” on the 19th August completed the assembly of seismic data from the northern parts of the Barents Sea, one month ahead of the original schedule.
”Because of nice weather and few technical problems, the data assembly has been more efficient than we anticipated”, Sissel Eriksen from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate says in a press release.
However, as noted by Greenpeace, the vessel collected far less data than planned. According to the original plan, a total of 7100 km of 2D seismics was to be conducted, but only about 5600 km was actually done, the environmental organization informs.
Reportedly, the ”Artemis Atlantic” chose not to enter the northernmost parts of the Svalbard zone.
As previously reported, the vessel was to operate in the northern Barents Sea until 15 September. The results of the mapping will not be made public.
Greenpeace sees the high north seismic operations as ”an unacceptable sneak opening of the vulnerable and ice covered Svalbard zone for oil drilling”. According to organization leader Truls Gulowsen, the operations are also a breach of a government declaration which bans petroleum activity in areas near the ice edge.
The Greenpeace ship ”Esperanza” has this summer been in the Svalbard waters for several weeks, and last Wednesday approached the ”Artemis Atlantic”, which subsequently changed course towards Hammerfest, the organization informs.
The mapping of the seabed around the Svalbard archipelago is controversial not only because of the far Arctic vulnerable environment, but also for political reasons.
Norway claims sovereignty over the shelf around the Svalbard archipelago. That position, however, is disputed by most other countries, among them neighboring Russia. The Svalbard Treaty from 1920 grants Norway sovereignty over the archipelago, but certain conditions apply, among them the signatory states’ equal right to engage in economic activities on the area. Norway argues that the treaty’s provisions of equal economic access apply only to the archipelago’s territorial waters, but not to the wider Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf.
Gazprom Neft has for the first time sent oil from Yamal along the northern Sea Route in winter conditions. 16.000 tons of crude oil was shipped to European consumers by oil tanker, escorted by a nuclear icebreaker.
Russia is prepared to protect its interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary, says Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, pointing to the increasing interest in the region’s resources by countries with no direct access to the Arctic.
“Ship-to-ship reloading of oil in icy-waters outside Kirkenes is a great example that Norway jeopardizes nature by lowering safety standards in our race for industrialization of the north,” says Lars Haltbrekken, head of the Norwegian Society for the conservation of Nature.
Could the Northern Sea Route be suitable for shipment of fish from the Far East to the European parts of Russia and vice versa? Stake holders in Russia’s fisheries industry and fishery authorities believe so.
“Whatever the pressure, Rakurs will continue to support LGBT community, to provide legal and psychological help. And we are going to challenge this wrongful decision in the court,” says Tatiana Vinnichenko, head of the organization.