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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Russia, eyeing Arctic future, launches nuclear icebreaker
Excerpt
25 May 2019

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker on Saturday, part of an ambitious program to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic's commercial potential.

The ship, dubbed the Ural and which was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg, is one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.

Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which it envisages being navigable year-round.

The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia's state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service.

"The Ural together with its sisters are central to our strategic project of opening the NSR to all-year activity," Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom's chief executive, was quoted saying.

President Vladimir Putin said in April Russia was stepping up construction of icebreakers with the aim of significantly boosting freight traffic along its Arctic coast.

The drive is part of a push to strengthen Moscow's hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States and Norway, as well as newcomer China.

By 2035, Putin said Russia's Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, nine of which would be powered by nuclear reactors.

More : https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...ure-launches-nuclear-icebreaker-idUSKCN1SV0E4
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
'Punch in the gut' as scientists find micro plastic in Arctic ice
Excerpt

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Tiny pieces of plastic have been found in ice cores drilled in the Arctic by a U.S.-led team of scientists, underscoring the threat the growing form of pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The researchers used a helicopter to land on ice floes and retrieve the samples during an 18-day icebreaker expedition through the Northwest Passage, the hazardous route linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

"We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean," said Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial onboard analysis of the cores.

"When we look at it up close and we see that it’s all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools -- it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut,” Strock told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.

Strock and his colleagues found the material trapped in ice taken from Lancaster Sound, an isolated stretch of water in the Canadian Arctic, which they had assumed might be relatively sheltered from drifting plastic pollution.

More : https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...ind-micro-plastic-in-arctic-ice-idUSKCN1V41V2
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Yamal LNG on fast boat to China as Northern route melts early
Reuters Excerpt
May 19, 2020

The first vessel to deliver a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo from Russia’s Yamal plant via the Northern Sea Route this year is on its way to China, ship-tracking data showed and analysts said.

The direct route to Asia, shorter than the westward journey via Europe, is frozen for much of the year, but is being used increasingly as climate change means it is free of ice for longer.

This year’s opening is more than a month earlier compared to 2019, when first vessel to go via the route left Yamal LNG on June 29.

The Christophe de Margerie vessel, an Arc7-classed LNG tanker, left the Sabbeta port in Russia’s Arctic on May 18 and is expected at China National Petroleum Corp’ (CNPC) Tangshan LNG terminal on June 11, data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.

More : Yamal LNG on fast boat to China as Northern route melts early
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
Russia's Gazprom Neft sends its first oil cargo to China via Arctic route
Excerpt
July 13, 2020

MOSCOW, July 13 (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of gas giant Gazprom, has shipped its first cargo with Arctic oil to China via the Northern Sea Route (NSR), it said on Monday.

Russia is betting on the NSR, an Arctic route requiring icebreakers and special ice-class tankers, to deliver cargoes both to Europe and Asia. Novatek, its top private gas producer, is shipping super-cooled gas via the NSR year-round.

Gazprom Neft said on Monday it took 47 days to deliver a cargo with 144,000 tonnes of light Novy Port oil grade to the Chinese port of Yantai on the Bohai Sea from Russia's north-western city of Murmansk.

More : Russia's Gazprom Neft sends its first oil cargo to China via Arctic route
 

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Canadian Navy to welcome first Arctic and offshore patrol ship on Friday
Global News Excerpt
July 31, 2020

The Royal Canadian Navy is set to officially welcome the first Arctic and offshore patrol ship to its fleet on Friday.

HMCS Harry deWolf is the first armed warship to have been finished through the federal government’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan.

It arrives two years behind schedule. The original plan was to have Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax deliver the ship in 2018, before the date was pushed to the end of 2019 and then the first three months of 2020 before finally arriving at this date.

The deWolf is the first of six new Arctic and offshore patrol vessels to be built in decades for the Royal Canadian Navy to conduct military operations in the Arctics.

Rob Huebert, an expert on the Arctic at the University of Calgary, told the Canadian Press that the deWolf’s arrival heralds a significant shift for the navy, which has tended to focus on the rest of the world and leave Canada’s Far North to the Canadian Coast Guard.

More : Canadian Navy to welcome first Arctic and offshore patrol ship on Friday
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
COVID-19 blamed as work on Arctic military port first promised in 2007 sees new delay
The Canadian Press Excerpt
August 2, 2020

The construction of a new military refuelling station in the Arctic is facing yet another delay more than 13 years after it was first promised by the federal government.

Stephen Harper, when he was prime minister, first announced plans to build the Nanisivik deep-water port in Nunavut, along with up to eight armed Arctic patrol vessels, in 2007.

The long-standing expectation was that the port, located on Baffin Island about 20 kilometres from Arctic Bay, would be ready when the first of those ships was finally delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Yet while the first Arctic patrol vessel was handed over to the navy on Friday after numerous delays and cost overruns, the Department of National Defence says the Nanisivik facility won't be ready until 2022.

Defence Department spokesperson Jessica Lamirande blamed travel difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for the latest delay, which follows numerous environmental and structural problems over the years.

More : https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/arctic-military-refuelling-station-delay-1.5672360
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
Arctic Sea Ice Shrank to Record Lows in July
Bloomberg Excerpt
Aug 6, 2020

Ice covering the Arctic Ocean reached the lowest level since at least 1979 for July as temperatures spiked in the region, leaving large stretches of Russia’s Siberian coast mostly ice-free.

Sea ice extent in the Arctic last month was 27% below the average set between 1981 and 2020, the lowest level ever recorded, with the previous July low set in 2012, according to a monthly report by Europe’s Copernicus agency.

The Arctic, which is warming more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, has endured a heatwave through spring and summer that saw record-high temperatures, an early start of the fire season and the opening up of usually frozen sea routes to shipping companies.

Satellite readings show ice-free conditions almost everywhere along the so-called Northern Sea Route, which spans through Russia’s northern coast. The region shows the highest levels of ice melting and also the highest temperatures for the Arctic region in July, compared to the historical average, Copernicus said.

Ice begins melting in the Arctic as spring approaches in the northern hemisphere, and then it usually starts building again toward the end of September as the days grow shorter and cooler.

More : Arctic Sea Ice Shrank to Record Lows in July
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
As Arctic ice melts, polluting ships stream into polar waters
Aug 28, 2020
Excerpt

LONDON (Reuters) - As melting sea ice opens the Arctic to navigation, more ships are plying the loosely regulated polar waters, bringing increasing amounts of climate-warming pollution, a Reuters analysis of new shipping and fuel-consumption data shows.

Traffic through the icy region’s busiest lane along the Siberian coast increased 58% between 2016 and 2019. Last year, ships made 2,694 voyages on the Northern Sea Route, according to data collected by researchers from the Centre for High North Logistics at Norway’s Nord University.

The trade is driven by commodities producers – mainly in Russia, China and Canada – sending iron ore, oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other fuels through Arctic waters.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly slowed shipping worldwide as supply chains have been disrupted, has not prevented traffic increasing on the Arctic artery. Ships made 935 voyages in the first half of 2020, up to the end of June, compared with 855 in the same period last year, the data shows.

The increase in shipping is a worry for the environment. As those heavy ships burn fuel, they release climate-warming carbon dioxide as well as black soot. That soot blankets nearby ice and snow, absorbing solar radiation rather than reflecting it back out of the atmosphere, which exacerbates warming in the region.

More : As Arctic ice melts, polluting ships stream into polar waters


 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
Russia says world's largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage
Sep 22, 2020
Excerpt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A nuclear-powered ice breaker Russia says is the world’s largest and most powerful set off on Tuesday on a two-week journey to the Arctic as part of Moscow’s efforts to tap the region’s commercial potential.

Known as “Arktika,” the nuclear icebreaker left St. Petersburg and headed for the Arctic port of Murmansk, a journey that marks its entry into Russia’s icebreaker fleet.

Russian state firm Rosatomflot has called the vessel the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker. It is more than 173 metres long, designed for a crew of 53, and can break ice almost three-metres thick.

The ship is seen as crucial to Moscow’s efforts to develop the Northern Sea Route, which runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska.

Amid warmer climate cycles, Russia hopes the route could become a mini Suez Canal, cutting sea transport times from Asia to Europe.

More : Russia says world's largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Arctic headache for ship insurers as routes open up
Excerpt
Oct 27, 2020

LONDON (Reuters) - When Captain Will Whatley guides a ship through Arctic waters, he is starkly aware of what can go wrong.

Double the manpower is needed to navigate. Lookout shifts are kept to just one hour, so sailors don’t lose concentration and miss a mass of floating ice. Big icebergs show up on radar, but smaller, truck-sized “bergy bits” - even more dangerous - can be missed, the captain says.

The cold can freeze equipment and the earth’s magnetic field disrupts compasses. If anything goes wrong, “you are so far away from help,” said Whatley, 31, who sails through Arctic and Antarctic waters for the British Antarctic Survey.

As climate change opens new sea routes, experienced polar captains like Whatley are coveted for Arctic voyages that can save money on the run between Europe and Asia. But as activity in the Arctic’s waters picks up, insurance companies are grappling with a fundamental question: If something goes wrong, who pays?

So far, it’s unclear that the cost of a major accident would be completely covered by insurance. Damages from a ship spilling oil, hitting an iceberg or becoming marooned can run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

More : Arctic headache for ship insurers as routes open up
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
UN approves ban on heavy ship fuel in Arctic
Excerpt

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The United Nations shipping agency on Friday approved a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic region in a move criticised by green groups which said loopholes will allow many vessels to keep sailing without enough regulatory control.

Antarctic waters are protected by stringent regulations, including a ban on heavy oil fuel (HFO) adopted in 2011, even though no cargo moves through the turbulent southern waters. For the Arctic, the rules have been looser.

In a virtual session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a ban on the use of HFO and its carriage for use by ships in Arctic waters after July 1, 2024.

More : UN approves ban on heavy ship fuel in Arctic
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
Warming Arctic at the frontier of climate insight and risk, experts say
Excerpt
Jan 12, 2021

HONG KONG/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The environmental transformation happening in the Arctic is key to understanding the potential global impacts of climate change, an Alaska Native leader and a polar explorer told the Reuters Next conference on Monday.

With climate change warming the Arctic twice as fast as the overall planet, newly possible commercial activities have also raised questions about responsibility and risk at the top of the world, an insurance expert said.

Native peoples’ observations of changes in the Arctic - such as diseases in fish, or shifts in the time of year when mountain snow melts - are key to understanding how climate change affects the whole ecosystem, said Ilarion Merculieff, president of the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways.

“Native people see things as interdependent, interlocking and synergistically combined,” said Merculieff, who is an Unangan from the Pribilof Islands off the west coast of Alaska. “We maintain that we need to have our different perspectives involved in western science.”

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“The Arctic is at the frontier of risk,” said Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation at Lloyd’s of London Market Association, adding that insurers assessing Arctic projects must consider environmental and social factors as well as commercial ones.

“An insurer’s role is to support commerce,” said Roberts. “In terms of whether we should be up there, that’s a wider moral question.”

More : Warming Arctic at the frontier of climate insight and risk, experts say
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
First Arctic Navigation in February Sends a Worrying Climate Signal
Bloomberg Excerpt
Feb 22, 2021

A tanker sailed through Arctic sea ice in February for the first time, the latest sign of how quickly the pace of climate change is accelerating in the Earth’s northernmost regions.

The Christophe de Margerie was accompanied by the nuclear-powered 50 Let Pobedy icebreaker as it sailed back to Russia this month after carrying liquified natural gas to China through the Northern Sea Route in January. Both trips broke navigation records.

“I am confident that the Northern Sea Route is competitive, that changes in the ice situation and the improvement of marine technologies create new conditions for its development,” said Yury Trutnev, Russia’s deputy prime minister and a member of the supervisory board at Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear corporation that manages the route.

More : Bloomberg - Are you a robot?
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
UN adopts ban on heavy fuel oil use by ships in Arctic
Excerpt

LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) - The United Nations shipping agency on Thursday adopted a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic region while green groups said the regulations contained loopholes which will allow many vessels to keep sailing without enough regulatory control.

Antarctic waters are protected by stringent regulations, including a ban on heavy oil fuel (HFO) adopted in 2011, even though no cargo moves through the turbulent southern waters. For the Arctic, the rules have been looser.

In a virtual session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) the UN's International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a ban on the use of HFO and its carriage for use by ships in Arctic waters after July 1, 2024.

More : UN adopts ban on heavy fuel oil use by ships in Arctic
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
Russia looks to Northern Sea Route as its military ambitions expand
Nikkei Asia Excerpt
Mar 13, 2022

Russia recently started building a shelter for submarines on the Kamchatka Peninsula in its remote Far East, fanning concerns it aims to use the Northern Sea Route, a shipping lane that connects Asia and Europe via the Arctic, for more than purely economic purposes.

The shelter, located near Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the largest city in the Kamchatka Peninsula and a key base for the Russian Pacific Fleet, will be supply submarines with missiles, torpedoes and fuel, according to Russia's Izvestia daily newspaper, as well as hosting full-scale repair and maintenance work. State-of-the-art minesweepers will also use the site.

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This area, however, has one big strategic disadvantage: It is not connected to the rest of Russia by land transport routes. All supplies have to be carried to the city by air or by sea, which are naturally susceptible to bad weather. Moreover, electricity is costly and supply is unstable in the area, which mainly depends on power generated by diesel. In a nutshell, the region is plagued by logistical challenges.

But, if the melting of ice as the planet warms paves the way to the year-round use of the Arctic shortcut between Europe and Asia, that could reshape the way things move between the two regions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to see this as more than simply a new strategic opportunity for unlocking and monetizing Russia's vast oil and gas reserves in the Arctic.

More : Russia looks to Northern Sea Route as its military ambitions expand
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
What next for China’s Polar Silk Road as Russian invasion of Ukraine sparks Arctic freeze?
South China Morning Post Excerpt
Mar 21, 2022

China must exercise caution in navigating Arctic cooperation with Russia, observers say, as the invasion of Ukraine overshadows international collaboration in the polar region and puts a freeze on Arctic Council activities.

Seven of the eight Arctic Council members – all bar Russia, the current rotating chair – have announced a boycott of meetings, including upcoming talks in Russia, over the country’s “flagrant violation” of the body’s core principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The March 3 joint statement – from the US, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – places a question mark over the future of the leading inter-governmental forum for Arctic states.

More : What next for China’s Polar Silk Road as Putin’s war sparks Arctic freeze?
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
What is behind Russia’s interest in a warming Arctic?
Al Jazeera Excerpt
Mar 28, 2022

The Arctic is one of the last remaining untapped areas of the world.

Its harsh climate and temperatures hostile to human life have long acted as a natural barrier to development and exploitation, but the climate crisis is fast changing this.

Six countries surround the Arctic Ocean, perched on the top of the world: Russia, Canada, the United States, Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

Now, this remote wilderness is changing. The disastrous effects of global warming have melted the polar ice caps and access to resources, tens of trillions of dollars worth, are tantalisingly within humanity’s grasp. There are fish to feed growing populations, and fossil fuels within reach in an era of dwindling reserves as global industry continues to depend on the old ways of producing energy.

The increased international competition that this will bring has spurred military spending and the deployment of specialised forces to the region to protect claims and each country’s own interests.

More : What is behind Russia’s interest in a warming Arctic?
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
War in Ukraine threatens geopolitical balance in the Arctic
France24 Excerpt
Apr 20, 2022

Russia shares a maritime border in the Arctic with European and American members of NATO. While environmental concerns and economic interests have typically dominated collaboration in the region, the war in Ukraine threatens to upset this careful balance.

Russia’s senior diplomat at the Arctic Council intergovernmental forum, Nikolai Korchunov, spoke out on April 17 about NATO’s increased presence in the Arctic since the war in Ukraine began. He said long-planned military drills between NATO, Finland and Sweden in the region in March were “a cause for concern” for Russia.

“The Alliance recently held another large-scale military exercise in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region," he said.

More : War in Ukraine threatens geopolitical balance in the Arctic
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
What to Know Before Cruising the Canadian Arctic
Condé Nast Traveler Excerpt
July 8, 2022

For more than 300 years, explorers attempted to find a water route between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean through the treacherous Arctic Ocean before they found Northwest Passage in 1905. Now, even knowing that route, the Canadian Arctic remains one of the most untouched and undeveloped domains on the planet—making it an alluring challenge for adventurous souls.

Most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago lies in the sparsely populated Canadian territory of Nunavut, where the unique topography is characterized by endless spans of treeless tundra, hugged by cold waters only accessible to those who dare to dock on their rocky shorelines. Small planes operated by Canadian North or Calm Air connect many remote fly-in communities to Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital city, and the rest of Canada. However, travel by sea allows a visitor to see more of this region in a single trip. These cruises typically travel between Greenland and Nunavut, traversing through the Northwest Passage. After the cruise, small charter flights return passengers to a larger airport, like Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), where passengers can plan their connecting flights home.

Today, ships of all sizes cruise past some of the more than 36,000 islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada (and the fifth-largest island in the world), is home to Iqaluit, and the 2,300-square-mile Penny Ice Cap, a remnant of the last ice age. Thirteen different communities in the Canadian Arctic receive cruise passengers, departing from Iqaluit to Kinngait, known for its many sculptures and line drawing artists, and sailing through the Northwest Passage to Pond Inlet. Smaller ships, like those used by Adventure Canada or Quark Expeditions, can access more remote communities than large luxury liners that sometimes sail the region. Many ships also use zodiac expedition boats that allow passengers to visit uninhabited islands, enjoy guided hikes on the tundra, and get a closer look at glaciers and icebergs without risking damage to these natural wonders.

More : What to Know Before Cruising the Canadian Arctic
 
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