Arctic Update Header
July 23, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



This week the Senate will vote on cloture on a federal district court nomination. The Senate will continue work on extending expiring tax provisions. The House will consider a number of legislative items under suspension.  



Oil Drilling in AlaskaCoast Guard Patrols Alaska Amid Oil Boom. A U.S. Coast Guard official said a stronger arctic presence is needed as international oil companies target the coast of Alaska. Shell aims to start drilling operations in the region once sea ice clears. The company said work could begin as early as next month and has chartered a commercial airliner to bring personnel from Anchorage to drilling sites further north. U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Kevin Riddle told the New York Times an increased presence was needed as the region gets more crowded. "More traffic up there means more people," he said. "If we don't have a presence up there, how are we going to respond adequately?" UPI 


Coast Guard SealFor Coast Guard Patrol in Alaska Arctic, Much to Learn. When the U.S. Coast Guard arrived in this remote corner of the Arctic this month to begin its biggest patrol presence in the waters north of Alaska, only one helicopter hangar was available for rent, and it was not, to put it mildly, the Ritz. Built by someone apparently more familiar with the tropics than the tundra, the structure had sunk several feet into the permafrost, with the hangar entrance getting lower as the building sank. Squeezing two H-60 helicopters into the tiny space? Think of parallel parking a stretch limousine. And for this -- the only game in town, take it or leave it -- the owner demanded $60,000 a month, a price that made Coast Guard leaders gasp. "Not perfect, but you've got to learn to do it somehow," Josh Harris, a Coast Guard aircraft mechanic, said as he stood surveying his first and not entirely straight attempt at towing in an aircraft. Anchorage Daily News


Can the Coast Guard Cope Up North? The Coast Guard knows Alaska better than anyone, but even it may struggle to adapt to operating at the very top of the world. Coast Guard leaders have been warning for years that there would come a day when melting Arctic ice meant more commercial and tourist vessels would make their way to waters they could never before reach. That reality is upon us now, and despite a steady stream of requests by the Coast Guard for help with its Arctic rescue and patrol responsibilities, nothing seems to have improved. No less an outlet than the New York Times reported Sunday about the Coast Guardsmen who are getting set to spend more time operating up north, and the challenges their facing with even basic jobs. DOD Buzz


Snow DragonChina's Icebreaker to Conduct Research in Arctic Circle. Floating ice are seen from China's icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon", after the icebreaker crossed the Arctic Circle, July 20, 2012. Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, is about to conduct comprehensive research at 33 oceanic observation stations in the Pacific Arctic and Atlantic Arctic regions during its three-month voyage. It is scheduled to return to Shanghai on Sept. 29.


Northwest Territories' Oil Play Big as Bakken: Shale Oil Play Success Hinges on Strong Crude Pricing and Infrastructure. The Northwest Territories has switched its engine for economic independence to oil from natural gas as major oil and gas producers start exploring a promising shale play in the central Mackenzie region. The Canol shale formation could be as big as the prolific Bakken light oil play which stretches across Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, said David Ramsey, minister of industry and of transportation for the NWT, Wednesday. Major oil and gas producers have invested $628 million in working commitments on 15 parcels in the central Mackenzie region since 2011, establishing a foothold in the promising region, Ramsey said. Calgary Herald 


US Coast Guard Approves Evaluation Standards for Response Vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard has approved Shell's request to change the standards for evaluating the readiness of the emergency response barge, the Arctic Challenger, which is under construction and expected to be on hand when Shell drills offshore Alaska this summer, a Shell spokesperson confirmed to Rigzone on Friday. Shell had originally asked the Coast Guard to evaluate the vessel using standards for floating production installations that are anchored in one place for long periods of time and must be able to withstand hurricanes and 100-year storms. However, Shell recently asked for the Arctic Challenger to be classified as a mobile offshore drilling unit, since the barge would move to escape storms or respond to an oil spill. RigZone


canadian flagPilots Association Suggests Arctic Airport Improvements. The Air Line Pilots Association, International, says it is happy that people are talking about aviation safety in the Arctic, and has a few infrastructure suggestions to improve safety and efficiency. New Democratic MPs and new NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow called on the Conservation Government last week to make flying in the North safer. Devin Lyall, who represents First Air pilots in the association, stressed the organization does not take political sides but that there are some relatively inexpensive ways to make flying safer and more efficient in the North. "We're really pleased that some of these issues came out in the public," he said. "I think a lot of people would be surprised to know about approaches and infrastructure in the North. Aviation is very safe in the North - we've been flying up there for a very long time - but these communities, I mean it's their only mode of transportation most of the year - for most of their food and medical supplies." CBC News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered Friday.

Future Events    


healthmeetinglogo15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to USARC 98th Meeting Draft Agenda 


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.


2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World; October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature.  


Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of  responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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