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Arctic / Environment / Headline

On Thin Ice – is the Arctic safe?

The North Sea oil spill has made our High North debate horribly topical all of a sudden. So has the news that Statoil’s latest North Sea oil discovery (in Aldous Major South) is the biggest in 20 years.

On Thin Ice – is the Arctic safe?

Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant has left Murmansk for its 4700 kms trip to a remote Siberian port – according to Arctic Today. News agencies suggest China is building another 20 floating nuclear rigs. Meanwhile Donald Trump didn’t managed to buy Greenland but he can still wreak Arctic eco-havoc in Alaska. A new 200 kms motorway, a copper mine & oilfield have been proposed in the remote Brooks Range foothills – and it seems there’s little or nothing small, surrounding Arctic states can do about these developments.

In 2011, Nordic Horizons organised a Festival of Politics debate about the safety of the High North, after Statoil (now Equinor) announced that its latest North Sea oil discovery (Aldous Major South) was the biggest Norwegian find in 20 years. We asked if the Far North is safe – even in Nordic hands? Do the Norwegians have systems ready to close down leaks more quickly than the British sector and less secretive oil companies – if not can they honestly say Arctic drilling is safe or ethical? Rune Rafaelsen of the Barents Secretariat told us “All industrial activities have a risk for accidents. For the people in the North it is a challenge to minimize the risks. But the answer must be economic development.” Anna Kireeva of Bellona said; “Such spills can happen anywhere, and Norway is not an exception — no oil company in the world can guarantee 100% safety. If such accident occurs in the Arctic, it would be impossible to eliminate its consequences.” Because the event was held in the Scottish Parliament, NH couldn’t record it. But Rune was one of the speakers in our fringe event at the Arctic Forum held in November in 2017 – outlining ambitious plans to build an Arctic railway, part-funded by China. Watch Rune’s short video below  – see all the other speakers from Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes here 

Is the Future Arctic?

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