The development of Arctic offshore oil and gas resources in Russia: Energy policy updates and new activities by companies
The development of its Arctic offshore oil and gas resources remains one of Russia’s strategic priorities, both in terms of ensuring national energy security and cementing its presence in the region. As existing fields in West Siberia mature and become less productive, Russia needs to bring new sources on stream, with these being primarily located in the country’s Arctic region, including its continental shelf, even though this presents considerable challenges to the industry. Some steps have already been taken to initiate and encourage this development, such as the process of adoption of a federal law liberalizing continental shelf access for private oil and gas companies and ongoing domestic development of offshore technologies that can be applied in the Arctic. This article analyses Russia’s contemporary strategies in the energy sector in terms of future offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic. It provides relevant updates on Arctic offshore oil and gas activities in Russia since 2014, illustrates the challenges Russian companies face in operating in this region, and outlines commercial agreements underlying long-term Arctic offshore interests. This analysis also helps to better understand future risk-sharing strategies for the Russian oil and gas companies in the Arctic that will need to be developed.
How Russia’s New Vision of Territorial Development in the Arctic Can Boost China-Russia Economic Collaboration
Gao Tianming & Vasilii Erokhin
In recent years, a growing number of investment projects in the Arctic zone of Russia have been contributed to by China’s capital and technologies, but the industrial development of the Russian Arctic remains extremely fragmented. The focal location of productive forces and population hampers integration of the northern territories into global supply chains, limits international investment cooperation to few mineral resources basins, and thus poses a threat to the resilient development of the entire region. Russia’s government has been paying increasing attention to mitigating social and economic imbalances in the Arctic. The new Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation and Provision of National Security through 2035 (approved in November 2020) for the first time focuses on the development priorities of individual regions and includes per-territory summaries of investment, infrastructure, and social projects. The Arctic Zone of Russia is expanding by the inclusion of new administrative entities. In 2020, Russia announced preferences for investors which have turned the Russian Arctic into the world’s largest free economic zone of almost five million square kilometers. Such changes cannot but affect business links with foreign counterparts. In this study, the authors explore new possibilities of Russia-China economic and investment cooperation in the High North. The analysis includes Russia’s national Arctic strategy and regional strategies of the nine administrative territories that constitute the Arctic Zone of Russia. The study concludes with the per-territory identification of the most promising investment and infrastructure projects for China to take part in.
A geopolitical outlook on Arctification in northern Europe: Insights from tourism, regional branding and higher education and research institutions
Dorothee Bohn & Alix Varnajot
This paper discusses the everyday bordering practices of non- and sub-state actors in the European Arctic through a geopolitical lens. Specifically, we analyse the mechanisms, aims, and effects of how regional development and higher education and research institutions (HER), as well as the tourism sector, in climatically subarctic Fennoscandia, actively reposition themselves as centrally located in the Arctic. We depart from a critical and economic reading of geopolitics, which enquires into the production of territories of wealth, power, security, and belonging. Given the global publicity of the Arctic in media, research, and politics, the region has become an economic opportunity for sparsely populated areas in the European High North. This rescaling towards the global Arctic, also termed Arctification, offers non- and sub-state bodies the possibility to turn a historically deprived peripheral location into a competitive advantage. Hence, the Arctic moves southwards into Fennoscandian provinces that until recently had shown little identification with the region. The soft borders of the Arctic render the region a relational space that can be adapted and reinterpreted according to the interests of different actors. As such, Arctification appears to be a geopolitical process that alters representations of both the Arctic and the Nordic countries, which is nonetheless rooted in the global circuits of contemporary capitalism.
A Picture is Worth [More Than] a Thousand Words: Visualizing Local and Tourist Perceptions of Greenland through Social Media Photo Mapping
Tracy Michaud, Colleen Metcalf & Matthew Bampton
The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is apt when examining social media photo posts. The Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) embedded within social media photos from online sites such as Flickr provides depths of information for tourism managers beyond the image itself. This research analyzes Flickr VGI from photos of Kalaallit Nunaat or Greenland, from 2004-2020 within a netnography framework and cultural geographic approach. This theoretical outlook argues that geo-visualizations create novel impressions of what tourists and local people value, give insights into how people perceive a destination, and influence sense of place. Greenlanders, although familiar with exploration and colonization, have only recently begun to deal with a growing number of tourists. While the tenants of responsible tourism management include a strong local voice in conversations on tourism development, results show Flickr images of Greenland are dominated by tourist photos, especially those in cruise ship ports, many likely taken from the ship. Furthermore there appears to be distinctly different photo patterns between locals and visitors. These dichotomies suggest the need for more conversation within broader tourism planning work around how the world “sees” Greenland, how it might affect the quality of life of locals, and sustainable tourism development for travelers. As visitation increases in Greenland, and in Polar regions in general, VGI provides an efficient, cost-effective way to visualize perceptions of various stakeholders, which can guide conversations in tourism management, and serve as a reminder to acknowledge and prioritize local voices.
Defining the limitations and opportunities in the consultation with the Sámi: The cases of the Arctic Railway and the Davvi Vindpark
Inker-Anni Sara, Torkel Rasmussen & Roy Krøvel
The results of this study point to a number of limitations in the consultation with the Sámi, such as incomplete information, lack of transparency and the failure of governments to build relationships based on trust with the Sámi. The article discusses limitations and opportunities of consulting Indigenous peoples based on two cases, the Arctic Railway and Davvi Vindpark. It builds on the analysis of news articles from the Sámi unit of the Finnish national broadcasting company as well as “memory-work.” Additionally, the findings of this study seem to indicate that the limitations to consultation and participation of Indigenous peoples persist even after signing international agreements such as the ILO Convention No. 169. In the conclusions, we also point to some opportunities for consultation and greater participation found in the investigation.
Ekaterina Sofroneeva, Catherina von Koskull & Hannu Makkonen
Global climate change, growing economic interest in the Arctic, and the inflow of investments into infrastructure in the Arctic regions have provided added impetus for the development of technology clusters and innovation ecosystems in the North and the Arctic. The goal of this study is to conceptually illustrate the roles of the actors involved in the development process of the innovation ecosystem in the Arctic regions. This research is crucial for optimizing the role of the actors responsible for the genesis of the innovation ecosystem in the Arctic regions and is based on a case study of the Yakutia innovation ecosystem. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) currently holds the leading position in the IT sphere of Far East Russia, accounting for 85% of the region’s IT services exports in the first quarter of 2020 and 82% in 2019. Yakutia develops the northernmost innovation ecosystem, with IT Park Yakutsk as its base, in collaboration with different actors from governments, universities, startup communities, and venture capital firms. This study applies a qualitative approach, with the data collection conducted using in-depth interviews. The interviewees in this study represent various actors, including businesses, governments, universities, and financial institutions. Theories developed by Dedehayir et al. (2018) and Tsujimoto et al. (2018) are used to explain and analyze the disposition, roles, and interactions of the actors during the genesis (birth phase) of the innovation ecosystem in the North. This study argues that building high-performing innovation ecosystems will produce digital and economic transformations that improve the sustainability and resilience of the societies in the Arctic.