Svalbard loses its only bank

News that Norway’s SpareBank1 was closing half of its 31 branches in Northern Norway hit the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard especially hard this week. Sparebank1 has been the only bank with a presence in Svalbard, and residents are unhappy. “This came as a complete surprise to us,” Trond Hellstad, chief of the bank branch in […]

Polar bear attacks man on Svalbard

UPDATED: Both a man from the Netherlands and a polar bear that attacked him during the night in a populated area of Svalbard were confirmed dead on Friday. The shocking attack occurred at a campground near Svalbard’s airport in Longyearbyen, and therefore inside an area generally considered to be safe. Officials on Svalbard were thus […]

Corona breaks out on Hurtigruten ship

One of the Norwegian cruise and shipping line Hurtigruten’s new hybrid expedition ships was berthed at Tromsø on Friday, after two ill crew members had to be hospitalized. They were confirmed as being infected with the Corona virus Covid-19 and now the rest of the crew must be tested, too, as Hurtigruten also contacts all passengers […]

Illegal emissions at Equinor gas plant

State oil company Equinor’s large natural gas plant at Melkøya outside Hammerfest has reported illegal emissions and pollution every year for the past 10 years. There haven’t been any punitive consequences, however, apart from official reminders that compliance is expected. Newspaper Finnmark Dagblad reported on the illegal emissions last weekend, and the national media has […]

New oil fields open, demand wanes

It didn’t take Norway’s Oil & Energy Minister Tina Bru long to launch the country’s 25th licensing round for more oil exploration and potential production, after Parliament settled on how far north such activity can take place. It remains unclear, however, whether the oil companies will express as much interest as before. The opening of […]

Hurtigruten heads back to Svalbard

Norway’s venerable coastal passenger and cargo shipping line Hurtigruten has won government approval to sail around Svalbard again this summer. Justice Minister Monica Mæland approved the sailings, as long as the smaller expedition ships used for the cruises only take half as many passengers as usual. “Cruise is important for the tourism industry,” Mæland stated, […]

Russia plans new exercises in Arctic

Just weeks after NATO conducted military exercises in the Barents Sea, and now has forced Norway’s northern city of Tromsø to receive nuclear-powered submarines, Russia is responding with major exercises of its own. Russian officials are calling the NATO exercises off Norway a “provocation,” while the Norwegians say they haven’t been officially informed about them. […]

US and Britain flex muscle in the Arctic

Four US Navy ships and one from Britain have been sailing in the waters off Norway’s North Cape this week, without any vessels from their NATO ally sailing with them. Defense analysts calls it a strategic display of force, which Norway must follow closely. The Kirkenes-based Barents Observer reported Tuesday that the American and British vessels […]

‘Solid compromise’ over the ice edge

Environmental organizations were quick to protest, as has the Norwegian government’s former partner, but Prime Minister Erna Solberg hopes she’s now settled just how far north oil exploration and production can be allowed. As long as oil prices remain low, however, the bigger question is whether oil companies will even be interested in more expensive […]

High court to hear Arctic oil complaint

Norway’s Supreme Court (Høyesterett) has agreed to evaluate whether the state has violated Norway’s constitution by choosing to issue oil exploration licenses in the Arctic. It’s a breakthrough for the environmental organizations that claim oil exploration and production in Arctic areas violate Norwegians’ constitutional rights to a safe and healthy environment. “We look forward to […]