Arcticportal News
Not ready for Arctic shipping, insurers say
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Friday, 22 August 2014 09:10

(Source: Gettyimage)Few days ago Marsh LLC, a company for insurance broking and risk management based in New York, has released the paper "Arctic Shipping: Navigating the Risk and Opportunities".

The melting of sea ice, recent discoveries of oil and gas North of Alaska, Canada and around Greenland, and the potential financial and time savings, among other factors,  are making the Arctic routes increasingly appealing to the international marine transportation networks. On the other side, extreme climate weather, floating ice, thick fog, violent storms, vessels still too vulnerable to ice damage and machinery breakdown, crews not prepared enough for such conditions, and lack of infrastructures have made the Arctic routes way less appealing for marine insurance companies.



In the report, Marsh experts have considered many factors that considerably challenge insurers.  

First, some hull considerations. Despite the introduction of the Polar Ice Class for vessels (2007), many challenges remain, increasing the possibilities of grounding, machinery breakdowns, fire. Among them: 

·         Extreme cold cause engine problems

·         Reduced coverage of GPS and Galileo

·         Innacurate/limited charts and hydrographic surveys

·         Restricted visibility due to fog

Secondly, the experts analysed existing infrastructures along the Arctic Routes. Again, despite the efforts of the Polar Ice Class code and proposed Polar Code, the paper considers that if a vessels does suffer an accident, there are serious concerns over the distance to adequate salvages services or repair facilities, especially in the eastern part of the NSR. 

In addition, wreak removal could prove extremely costly (if at all possible), if crew members are injured or become ill, hospitalization could be a major challenge due to the remoteness of the Arctic routes, and the risk of pollution is very high. In fact., the risk of pollution in the Arctic is perhaps the greatest concern for P&I insurers, as oil reacts differently in cold temperatures where it is less responsive to chemical dispersants, and, considering that for large periods of the year it is almost constantly dark in the region, it is difficult, even by air, to spot and locate pollutants. 

Marsh experts concluded: 

As things currently stand, the majority of ships and their crews are not ready, the support service facilities are not in place, and the risks involved are not understood at a level to enable underwriters to price insurance for Arctic transit with either clarity or certainty. Use of the NSR accounts for a comparatively small percentage of the total global marine transport activity, and to date the NWP has only been used by a few vessels. Nevertheless, these levels appear set to increase significantly over the coming years, especially with discoveries of huge mineral resources in the north of Russia, extending out into the Arctic Ocean, Kara, Pechora, Laptev, and East Siberian Seas. Add to this the increasing finds of oil and gas deposits north of Alaska, Canada, and around Greenland, and it is perhaps inevitable that hull and P&I insurers will be more frequently asked to consider allowing vessels to navigate the northern waters. However, underwriters’ concerns surrounding remoteness, lack of salvage support services, and other risks means that it is by no means certain that they will accommodate such requests. If and when they do, such negotiations will need to be handled carefully by those who have been studying and engaged in the issues of this region for some time already. 


Read more at Marsh


Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 10:17

Tromsø (Source: On 25 and 26 September 2014 the K.G. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea, Tromsø,  will host a conference on the legal issues associated with the developments and use of energy resources in the Arctic. The conference aims to bring together scholars, graduate students, practitioners, representatives of the energy industry, non-governmental organizations and indigenous peoples to discuss a range of legal issues associated with the development and use of energy resources in the Arctic.

 The conference will take place in Auditorium 3 of the Faculty of Law, University of Tromsø, and has a registration fee of 1250 NOK (which covers the costs of the conference dinner and two lunches).


The topics discussed will include:


  • Arctic hydrocarbon leasing regimes and strategic environmental issues
  • Offshore oil and gas activities: compensation and liability issues
  • Human rights and arctic energy developments
  • Cooperative arrangements for energy developments in the Barents Sea
  • Governance issues and arctic energy
  • Investment and competition Law issues affecting arctic energy developments

 Keynote Speakers

Else Berit Eikeland, Member of the Arctic Council - Senior Arctic Official, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Professor Timo Koivurova—Arctic Centre/University of Lapland

Dr. Anatole Boute—University of Aberdeen



The conference has a registration fee of 1250 NOK which covers the costs of the conference
dinner and two lunches. Reservation of accommodation, at conference rate, is available until
1 September.
Information about the hotel can be found here:

A registration form is available here:

Information about the University of Tromsø and the K.G. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the
Sea can be found here: and
Information about Tromsø and travel can be found here:
For more information on the conference and registration please contact
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



Bárðarbunga: possible eruption
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 08:52

Vatnajokull seen by the road ( intense seismic activity at Bárðarbunga (Vatnajokull area)  has started on 16 of Agust. During the past 3 days, thousand of  earthquakes in the area have been registred. The Icelandic Metereological Office (IMO) reports that very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements. There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm.This is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange. Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood (jökulhlaup) and ash emission. The situation is monitored closely.

The "Aviation color code map"  (issued by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures) shows the current status of Icelandic volcanic systems: Bárðarbunga is now labeled orange, "Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption".

Four years after  Eyjafjallajokull blew, disrupting European air travel and costing $ 1.7 billion (accordingly to Reuters),  there are chances that Bárðarbunga may affect again European aviation. Scientists said Monday there are two scenarios: one is an explosion outside the Vatnajokull glacier, leading to minor ash emissions and troubles locally (in the meanwhile Icelandic autorities have closed the roads around the area, due to possible floodings as consequence of ice-melting due to underground magma movements).

The second possibility is an eruption occurring inside the glaciar. Seismologis5t Martin Hensch says the latter could lead to ash being sent high into the atmosphere. 

Source: IMO, The Washington Post. 


US & Arctic Council: call for ideas
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Monday, 18 August 2014 09:22

The newly appointed U.S. special Arctic representative, former Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp, has issued a call for ideas about policies that should be promoted at the Arctic Council once the United States assumes chairmanship of that eight-nation body next year.


Mount McKinley (Alaska). (Source: A major goal for him, as he prepares for the two-year U.S. chairmanship, is convincing the American public that the Arctic is important to the nation, Papp said at a listening session Thursday in Anchorage.



Heather Hudson, professor of public policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, cited telecommunications as a potential focus of the Arctic Council. The council, under U.S. leadership, could promote improvements in broadband communications and work to expand telemedicine, distance education and other communications-based services that would improve lives in remote parts of the Arctic.


Regional energy development should be a major focus of the Arctic Council under U.S. leadership, said others.


“Life in communities is going to be really hard to continue without some relief from the current energy regime that we’re in,” said Matt Ganley of the Bering Straits Native Corp. Without some changes to energy supply, local economic development is not possible, he said. He cited his corporation's efforts to reopen the Rock Creek gold mine near Nome. The corporation’s studies have found that energy costs would eat up 40 percent of the per-ounce gold-production expenses, he said.


Meera Kohler, president of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, had a similar message. “The Arctic is incredibly energy-rich. Yet the citizens of Alaska are energy-poor,” she told Papp and his delegation.


Food security should be a priority of the Arctic Council, some told Papp.

A common message from those advising Papp: The Arctic Council needs to make sure that it involves and engages the people who live in the Arctic, especially the indigenous people of the circumpolar north. 


Source: Alaska Dispatch News

SAR Canada: Operation Nanook
Shipping News
Written by Federica   
Friday, 15 August 2014 11:49

 Canada Search and Rescue (source: Wikipedia) Canada Search and Rescue (source: Wikipedia)This yearOperation Nanook, the Canadian military’s largest recurring operation in the North, will run from August 20 to 29, and will focus on Search an Rescue (SAR) operations in the waters off the country’s northern coast, and will feature two exercises. 

In the first, a fishing vessel in the Davis Strait will put in a call for assistance, setting into motion a search and rescue mission that will test military responders’ ability to locate, treat and evacuate the injured fishermen – played convincingly by mannequins.

In the second, and more involved, operation a cruise ship in distress will seek to make an unexpected call on Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut and home to 6,700 people. 

Typically, Operation Nanook is a military exercise, aimed at training members of Canada’s armed forces how to fight in the demanding Arctic terrain. With the search and rescue scenario this year, the operation will involve a number of civilian organisations that observers say will add realism – and an extra layer of complexity – to an already life-like situation. 

While that kind of involvement is appreciated, Ilja Leo Lang, a spokesperson for AECO, an industry group representing small-scale Arctic cruise operators, pointed out that search and rescue in the Arctic, no matter how well planned, was a last line of defence.

“This is an important exercise,” he says, “But we need to make sure ships can rescue their own passengers. There are close to no search and rescue facilities in the Arctic, so we prepare for situations in which we get no help.”

Lang underscored that the exercise appeared to be realistic, but he worried that the attention being placed on rescue efforts undermined confidence in the preparations Arctic cruise operators made well before passengers ever step on board.

“As important as planning for an accident is working to prevent one,” he says. “But exercises like these easily give the impression that operators don’t know what they are doing – or that they haven’t done anything to ensure the safety of passengers. That’s absolutely not the case.”

Cruise operators, he says, carry out rigorous risk assessments in order to minimise the chance of an accident. Governments, he says, should do more to help those efforts. One way would be to inform ships of the positions of other vessels in the area that could help – or which could need help – in the event of an accident. 

Marc Jacobsen, a research associate with the Arctic Institutepublished a paper last year that used data from the Danish military’s 2013 search-and-rescue exercise off the coast of western Greenland to theorise what would happen in the event of an accident involving a ship the size of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that ran aground in Italy in 2012.

He said he would be eager to see whether the lessons learned during Operation Nanook would be applicable in other regions.

Like others, he underscored that the exercise would provide valuable training, but questioned whether planners had set the degree of difficulty too low.

Source: Arctic Journal.  

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