The Buzz around Arctic Exploration

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Measurement | Tags: , , , |

Three main topics dominated coverage of the Arctic exploration in the second half of January: the deal between BP and Rosneft, Nordic pact and northern mini-NATO, and diminishing role of Canada in the region.

The deal between BP and Rosneft caused an increase in media interest in Arctic exploration. The New York Times suggested that the Arctic exploration is likely to reinforce Russia’s dominance of the global natural gas industry and informed that THK-BP announced that the Russian private partners were not consulted about the Arctic exploration agreement. Analysts believe that support of the Russian state of the deal “should help reduce [BP’s] risk in Russia… but BP’s elaborate maneuvering could collapse at some point” (19/01).

The British Sunday newspapers closely followed the possibilities of oil production in Arctic. They covered the BP-Rosneft deal favourably despite the risks mentioned by BP executives. The Sunday Times quoted David Peattie, BP’s head of Russia as saying that “it is an experiment the rest of the industry will be watching with interest. If the region is as good as we think, this could be another North Sea” (16/01). Chris Weaver, chief strategist with UralSib Financial Corporation in Moscow, commented in his blog that the results of the exploration will be decisive for the future of the Arctic region: “Disappointing results will cool enthusiasm for exploration in the Arctic and give the environmentalist lobby a breathing space. Results that confirm the existence of a large volume of energy riches will trigger an energy race” (www.russiaotherpointsofview.com: 14/01).

Opinion influencers also welcomed recent growth of activities in the region. The Daily Telegraph published an Op/Ed by Roger Howard, the author of ‘The Arctic Gold Rush: The New Race for Tomorrow’s Natural Resources’. He believes that “Russia’s deal with BP offers a model for how to best exploit scarce resources. Besides commercial cooperation, there are other joint ventures in the Arctic that could tap this self-interest to help foster international harmony. Russia and NATO could work together to confront the mutual challenges in the waters of the Northeast Passage that runs along Russia’s northern coasts” (16/01).

The Canadian press renewed its interest to the Arctic region due to reports that the Howard government put on hold its search for bidders to operate and maintain the chain of early-warning radars that guards against foreign incursions into Canadian and U.S. airspace in the Far North. The media criticized the authorities for not doing enough to upgrade its search and rescue capabilities in the region. Some experts expressed concern that “Russia’s bullish approach to Arctic oil stands to suck away [Canadian] talent. (The Globe and mail: 18/01).

View this article in the Russian language.

Elena Sokolova is a Media Consultant with Dow Jones, based in London, UK.

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