Arctic Update Header
October 12, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are not in session. 



Arctic MapThe Eight Member States of the Arctic Council Have Agreed to Sign a Binding Treaty Concerning Response for Potential Oil Spills in the Arctic. The treaty was agreed to yesterday in a meeting in Reykjavík, Iceland. The joint defense and response agreement will be developed over the coming months. The specific meeting about this issue in Reykjavík saw 70 representatives talk about the issue, with the conclusion of agreeing to sign a binding agreement, with the joint responsibilities. The cooperation will amongst other things, touch on information sharing and response exercises. The countries already have various equipment and knowledge on the issue, but it might be different between countries and how well they are prepared. Arctic Portal


begichBegich Hearing Focuses on Shell's Drilling Offshore in Alaska. Better ice forecasting in the Alaska Arctic. More Coast Guard resources. More jobs for North Slope residents. A share of oil revenue for Alaska. Streamlined permits and regulation. Those are some of the ideas presented Thursday to a U.S. Senate panel holding a field hearing in Anchorage on what was learned from this year's offshore drilling by Royal Dutch Shell in the Alaska Arctic.  Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes told Begich that scientific research must be more closely linked to decisions by government regulators. To that end, the U.S. Arctic Research Commission and its chair, former Alaska Lt. Governor Fran Ulmer, are working to develop a site of online resources to link users with scientific information that relates to the management of resources in the Arctic. Anchorage Daily News


Shell in ChukchiOfficial Pledges Support for Arctic Drilling. The Interior Department's deputy secretary David Hayes said Thursday that there will be no slowdown of the permitting process for Arctic offshore drilling if President Obama is re-elected. Royal Dutch Shell PLC was allowed to begin exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska's north shores this summer, but U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, told Hayes that he's heard concerns that permitting might be reversed. Anchorage Daily News


Shell Oil's Next Arctic Challenge? Navigating Oil From Ocean to Pipeline. Believing the U.S. Arctic Ocean contains one of the world's richest undiscovered oil and gas plays, Royal Dutch Shell is already considering what it will take to ship vast amounts of oil across Alaska. The oil giant might just find the bonanza next summer. In recent weeks, it's punched the first exploratory holes into the U.S. Arctic seabed in more than two decades. Federal regulators won't let Shell drill into potential oil-bearing zones this season. But that's expected to happen after the sea ice begins to melt next summer, now that the company's oil-spill containment barge has won Coast Guard certification. Alaska Dispatch


Shell Gets Approval for Arctic Oil-Spill Barge. An oil-spill barge that Royal Dutch Shell Plc needs to support drilling in Arctic waters has regulatory approval, even though it has come too late for this year's operations, officials from the US Coast Guard and Shell said on Thursday. Without the Arctic Challenger oil-containment vessel on site, Shell has been allowed to drill only to shallow  

depths -"top-hole" drilling- that stops thousands of feet short of oil-bearing geologic zones. Business Times


russian flagRussian Defense Ministry Says It Will Raise Two Sunken Nuclear Subs-Observers Skeptical It Will Happen Soon. The ministry said it will announce an international tender, which may include companies from the France, the Netherlands, South Korea and United States, as the Russian Navy does not have the necessary equipment to carry out deep-sea salvage operations, Izvestia said, citing a military source that the paper did not name. The source reported that the project to lift the two submarines, the K-27 and the K-159, is a part of a revised government draft for strategic development of Russia's Arctic zone. Bellona  


Arctic Research Ship Scientists on Thin Ice. After a good two months, 54 scientists and technicians from 12 different countries conducted research on the retreat of the sea ice and the consequences for the Arctic Ocean and its ecosystems. Since its departure from Tromsř (Norway) on 2 August 2012, Polarstern has traveled some 12,000 kilometers and conducted research at 306 stations. These included nine ice stations where the ship moored to an ice floe for several days to examine the ice, the water beneath it and the bottom of the sea. MarineLink  


Polar bearHow Many Polar Bears Live In the Arctic? The problem with gathering an accurate census on polar bears is that the apex predators wander far and wide in their hunt for food. Some of the globe-trekking carnivores have been known to travel thousands of miles and back again, crossing international boundaries and vast bodies of water along the way. Unlike the remote cabin in the woods, where census workers for the U.S. government have been known to sweep in on snowmachines to turn the cabin's human occupants into usable statistics for government population estimates, performing a head count of polar bears across the Arctic isn't nearly as easy or as methodical. Alaska Dispatch

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                      


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.  


Foreign Policy Panel Debate: "Is the Law of the Sea Treaty in the United States' Best Interests?" October 30, 2012. The American Academy of Diplomacy and the World Affairs Council cosponsor a panel discussion on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: 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.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)