Inuit Nunangat Stories
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Inuit Nunangat Stories
Arctic, Circumpolar stories curated by @Northern_Clips [Full story? Click on headline]
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Russia explores old nuclear waste dumps in Arctic

Russia explores old nuclear waste dumps in Arctic | Inuit Nunangat Stories |

"...Russia's drive for Arctic oil and gas is complicated by the presence of old nuclear waste dumps in the Kara Sea. 

The toxic legacy of the Cold War lives on in Russia's Arctic, where the Soviet military dumped many tonnes of radioactive hardware at sea.

For more than a decade, Western governments have been helping Russia to remove nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines docked in the Kola Peninsula - the region closest to Scandinavia.

But further east lies an intact nuclear submarine at the bottom of the Kara Sea, and its highly enriched uranium fuel is a potential time bomb.

This year the Russian authorities want to see if the K-27 sub can be safely raised, so that the uranium - sealed inside the reactors - can be removed.

They also plan to survey numerous other nuclear dumps in the Kara Sea, where Russia's energy giant Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil are now exploring for oil and gas. ... Secret dumps

On the western flank is a closed military zone - the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. It was where the USSR tested hydrogen bombs - above ground in the early days.

Besides K-27, official figures show that the Soviet military dumped a huge quantity of nuclear waste in the Kara Sea: 17,000 containers and 19 vessels with radioactive waste, as well as 14 nuclear reactors, five of which contain hazardous spent fuel. Low-level liquid waste was simply poured into the sea...."

Northern_Clips's insight:

"...As if to underline the strategic priorities, Russia is boosting its military presence in the Arctic and the Northern Fleet is getting a new generation of submarines, armed with multiple nuclear warheads...."

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Russia’s Arctic Security Strategy - Analysis

Russia’s Arctic Security Strategy - Analysis | Inuit Nunangat Stories |


November 6, 2011

By Dmitry Gorenburg

The Russian Arctic’s economic Potential

A 2008 US Geological Survey estimates that 13 percent of the world’s remaining oil and 30 percent of its natural gas reserves are located in the Arctic. A relative increase in energy prices compared to the historical average has made the exploitation of these remote and technically difficult resources more cost-effective. Russia’s natural resources ministry has stated that the parts of the Arctic Ocean claimed by Russia may hold more petroleum deposits than those currently held by Saudi Arabia. The same US Geological Survey estimated total Russian offshore oil reserves at 30 billion barrels, while natural gas reserves were estimated at 34 trillion cubic meters (tcm), with an additional 27 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.1

Because most of these deposits are located offshore in the Arctic Ocean, where extraction platforms will be subject to severe storms and the danger of sea-ice, the exploitation of these resources will require significant investment and in some cases the development of new technology. This means that extraction will only be economically feasible if prices for hydrocarbons remain high.

However, Russian natural resources in the Arctic are not limited to hydrocarbons. According to the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, the Arctic currently supplies more than 90 percent of Russia’s nickel, cobalt, and platinum, as well as 60 percent of Russia’s copper. Ninety percent of Russian diamonds and 24 percent of its gold is mined in the Arctic region of Yakutia. One of the world’s largest phosphate mines is located on the Kola Peninsula. In addition, Arctic Russia has significant deposits of silver, tungsten, manganese, tin, chromium, and titanium.


The extraction of these natural resources provides Russia with 11 percent of its GDP and 22 percent of its export earnings.2

In the relatively near future, Russia is likely to develop the significant deposits of rare earths, which are found on the Kola Peninsula and in Yakutia.

The future economic potential of the region is not limited to the extraction of natural resources. In recent decades, it has become clear that climate change is leading to the rapid melting of the polar ice cap, which has already improved access to the Russian Arctic. In the future, Russian planners hope to see the development of a northern sea route that might compete with the Suez Canal route for commercial maritime traffic.

The route is attractive because it is a significantly shorter path from Asia to Europe than via the Suez Canal or around the Cape of Good Hope. Furthermore, the route avoids the risks posed by pirates operating in the Straits of Malacca and in the Indian Ocean of the coast of Somalia. However, these benefits are offset by the added expense of having to hire icebreakers and the potential for delays due to unexpected ice or severe storms.

While analysts differ on how quickly the Northern Sea Route will become commercially viable, the consensus seems to indicate that while the passage will be largely ice free during the summer by 2015, regular commercial traffic may not be feasible for another 20–30 years.

Finally, the region represents one of the world’s most significant fishing areas. While the Arctic’s share of global fisheries has been stable at four percent for the last 30 years, it is likely to increase as the result of over-fishing in other parts of the world.

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Russia ambitious about Arctic shelf development

Russia ambitious about Arctic shelf development | Inuit Nunangat Stories |
Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia plans to develop its energy fields on the Arctic shelf to produce 66.2 million tons of oil and 230 billion cubic meters of gas by 2030.

“The Arctic shelf contains nearly the fourth part of the world’s energy resources, yet not all opportunities are used to use the most of these resources”, Mr. Medvedev said.

He added that the federal budget alone cannot ensure substantial funding of the project, and cooperation with private investors is required.

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