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Executive Summary for September 1st

We review the latest Arctic news, including Statoil’s disappointing results from drilling this summer in the Barents Sea, Canada’s plans to beef up its Arctic maritime safety and Greenland’s unusual absence from a new U.N. convention on mercury.

Published on Sep. 1, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Statoil Strikes Out

The Norwegian oil giant had high hopes for its Korpfjell prospect in the Barents Sea, but recent drilling turned up no oil and not enough gas to warrant development. Still, as the Barents Observer reports, the company plans to stick with next year’s Barents Sea exploration plans.

Local business and political leaders are urging patience too. As the mayor of Vardø told the Barents Observer: “Like in football matches, there are many chances to score goals.”

Shoring up Arctic Maritime Safety

Canada is boosting its spending on Arctic Ocean monitoring and spill response. As Radio Canada International reports, C$175 million (US$139 million) will be spent over five years.

Some of that money will go toward safety equipment, training and infrastructure to help with the resupply of Canadian Arctic communities. The funds will also help improve surveillance of the growing number of ships in Canadian Arctic waters and expand the Coast Guard auxiliary in the Arctic.

Mercury Rising

Greenland was conspicuously absent among the signatories of a new United Nations convention on mercury, reports High North News. Greenland’s absenteeism is all the stranger, given how the island’s Inuit population faces particularly high mercury levels, due to how the toxic metal travels in the air and water from southern industrial facilities into the Arctic, where it then accumulates in animals like fish, seals and whales that are important parts of the Greenlandic diet.

The Greenlandic government says it lacked the resources to participate in U.N. negotiations over the mercury convention. And ratifying the convention would be a symbolic matter for Greenland, which produces no major sources of mercury pollution. Still, some say such symbolism should count for something when the issue may involve serious health impacts on Greenland’s residents.

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