Newsletter: Setting the Course from Svalbard to Russia

Byggeaktivitet og energi på Svalbard
Once again, inhabitants and businesses in Longyearbyen have to transform. Though this time around, no one knows exactly to what. (Foto: Line Nagell Ylvisåker)

Energy crisis, climate crisis, and a newly appointed defense minister who wants to draw Russia closer. Add a misguided Svalbard policy, and you have the past week in the High North.

The conflict over who gets to reside in live in Svalbard – not to forget; how – is sharpening.

While businesses in Svalbard have starved through a pandemic, which for long periods shut down this Arctic community at 78 degrees North, the mainland bureaucrats have spend the time at their respective home offices fine-tuning the attacks that are to secure increased ‘norsification’ of Longyearbyen”, Editor-in-Chief Arne O. Holm says about the situation in which the Svalbardians find themselves.

Now, a unified business sector on the Arctic archipelago demands the government withdraw hearings with “invasive regulation proposals”.

“When such invasive proposals for an entire local community is to be formed, we expect to be involved and listened to”, says General Manager Terje Aunevik of Svalbard Business Association.

High North News follows the situation.

Arctic gas to the rescue

While the energy crisis is global, Arctic gas comes to the rescue. The price on natural gas has peaked in both Asia and Europe, and China has now received an emergency supply of liquefied natural gas from the Russian Arctic.

And even though the sea ice isa bout to form around the Northern Sea route, the nuclear-powered container vessel Sevmorput Tuesday set sail from St. Petersburg in Russia, bound for Bangladesh. The voyage is to take some 25 days.

Friendship and deterrence

HNN’s Hilde-Gunn Bye spoke with Norway’s new Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen (Center Party) at Bodø Air Base this week. Enoksen stresses the need for a closer dialogue with Russia.

“Russia is our closest neighbor in the East and it is important to have a better dialogue in all areas”, Enoksen said.

Deterrence is still a strategy towards Russia, a fact that was underscored when to American B-1 bombers followed Norwegian F-35 fighters on an Arctic mission.

Cannot shut down overnight

During the climate conference currently ongoing in Glasgow, the G20 leaders agreed to try and reach the 1.5 degrees goal of the Paris Agreement.

However, closing down all oil and gas production over night is unrealistic, argues the Russian chairman of the Arctic Economic Council, Yevgeny Ambrosov.

In an exclusive High North News interview, he says that all companies – included those operating in the Arctic – want stable, predictable and long-term plans.

Dear reader. It is November, and the Polar Nights are settling in over parts of the Arctic. We who live in the High North face a special time.

We of the editorial staff would love to hear from you about all things Arctic, big and small. If you have a special picture you would like to share, a commentary, or a tip, please submit it to us at Because we would like to know what goes on in your Arctic corner of the world.

Warm regards,
Trine Jonassen,
News Editor, High North News