• Russian economy is dipping into depression. But unemployment remains historically low.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Russian economy is expected to dip into a three percent recession in 2015 and both private companies and public authorities experience increasing hardship. Figures from several regions indicate increasing problems also in the employment market.

    Statistics show an increase in jobless rates in the first months of the year. In Murmansk, unemployment increased to 8,2 percent in February, an increase of about 1,5 percent compared with figures from 2014, BarentsObserver reports.

    However, unemployment in Murmansk and the neighboring Russian regions is still historically low.

    According to Patchwork Barents, average unemployment in the Russian part...

  • Gas production in northern Norwegian waters was the highest ever in 2014.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Figures assembled by Patchwork Barents show that Norwegian gas production in waters north of the Arctic Circle in 2014 amounted to 7,46 billion cubic meters. That is the biggest volume from the region ever, BarentsObserver reports.

    A lion's share of the Norwegian Arctic production comes from Statoil's Snøhvit LNG project, the world's northernmost of its kind, which in 2014 reached a production record of 5,22 billion cubic meters.

    In the more southernly Norwegian Sea, the fields located in the waters off the county of Nordland in 2014 produced a total of 2,23 million cubic meters. That volume will increase significantly as Statoil opens its Aasta Hansteen field, presumably in 2017....

  • BarentsObserver compares two major border regions.
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat

    Why should we care about border regions? Because they represent a unique example of how people live – a cross section of their differences and similarities.

    Border regions can give us a better understanding of countries’ social and economic developments.They can tell the stories of a musher in Finnish Lapland, speaking fluently Russian, or a grape grower in Southeast Bulgaria, close to the Turkish border. Living close to a national border affects the way people interact with each other – sometimes resulting in cooperation, other times in conflict. 

    BarentsObserver compared the Barents Region and the Balkan Region by using social and economic data from the two data portals,...

  • 03/13/2015
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat

    What are the most popular baby names given to newborns in the Barents Region? Patchwork Barents used data from 2013 and 2014 to illustrate the regional trends, the BarentsObserver reports.

    The visualizations below show the most popular boys’ and girls’ names in Swedish, Norwegian, Russian and Finnish parts of the Barents Region.

    As seen from the visualization, the most popular baby names for girls were Emma and Linnea in Northern Norway, Elsa in Northern Sweden and Maria in the Finnish provinces. In Barents Russia, the most popular name was Anastasia, Daria and, similar to Finland, Maria.      

    The most popular names given to boys in Northern Norway were Lucas, Isak and William. In Northern Sweden...

  • Production off the coast of northern Norway drops to another record-low.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Figures from Patchwork Barents show that production in northern Norwegian waters in 2014 dropped to 4,3 million tons, the lowest in 20 years. At peak production in 2001, output in the area reached 18,4 million tons.

    The figures include production from the fields located in the Norwegian Sea off the coast of the Nordland county, among them the Heidrun, Morvin, Norne and Urd fields.

    Meanwhile, figures from other parts of the Barents Region show stable production figures. Both in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Komi Republic, oil production in 2014 increased to 13,5 million tons and 14,2 million tons respectively. In the Nenets AO, the increase follows five years of declining production caused primarily by Lukoil's problems with the Yuzhno-Khilchuyu field.

  • Russia's northernmost coal-produding region in 2014 saw a decline in output.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Figures assembled from the regional industry show that coal production in the Komi Republic in 2014 shrunk with about 12 percent from 14,8 million tons to 13,1 million tons. The decrease took place at both the region's two coal-producing companies, the Vorkutaugol and Intaugol.

    Vorkutaugol in 2014 produced a total of 11,4 million tons, a decrease of seven percent from 2013, company owner Severstal informs. "Last year was very difficult ", Vadim Shablakov, Vorkutaugol CEO, says in a press release. The company had major problems with its equipment in the first half of the year and production returned to normal only in fall, BarentsObserver reports.

    Meanwhile, the...

  • 02/25/2015
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Unlike competitors in Norway and Sweden, iron miners in Murmansk are making good money.

    Severstal, the operator of the Olcon iron ore mine in Olenegorsk, Murmansk Oblast, and the Karelsky Okatish, a pellets plant in the Republic of Karelia, in 2014 had its best results in six years, BarentsObserver reports.

    Commenting on the results, company CEO Aleksey Mordashov says that Severstal in 2014 delivered a 21.2 percent year-on-year increase in EBITDA to $2,203 million, up from $1,818 million in 2013. According to the company report, ouput from the Olcon mine in 2014 dropped 4 percent, while production at the Karelsky Okatish increased 2 percent.

  • 02/18/2015
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Norilsk Nickel in 2014 produced less nickel in the Kola Peninsula than in more than a decade.

    The company, the world's biggest producer of the valuable metal, in 2014 had a four percent drop in production. In the Kola Peninsula, one of two production regions in Russia, the production decline was three percent, a company press release reads.

    The lower production and the falling raw material prices would have been a dramatic mix for the company was it not for the major weaking of the ruble, BarentsObserver reports.

    "The decline in nickel and copper is causing a revenue decline," company CEO and majority owner Vladimir...

  • In January the overall trend goes up 4%
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat

    As recently reported by the BarentsObserver, consumer prices continue to rise in Russia. In January 2015, consumer prices on all commodiites increased, in average, with four percent across Barents Russia, figures from Rosstat show. In comparison, the previous month’s increase was 2.9 percent.

    The inflation is still primarily reflected on foodstuffs, vegetables in particular. In Murmansk Oblast, for example, consumer prices on vegetables like cabbage, carrots and cucumbers increased by respectively 37.85 percent, 16.04 percent and 14.94 percent in January,...

  • 02/17/2015
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat

    Temperature figures from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have drawn worldwide attention – the year 2014 was the warmest across the globe since the nineteenth century. The Barents Region was no exception to the rising air temperatures.

    Over the last ten years, the annual air temperature across the Barents Region has risen, in average, by one degree celsius, the BarentsObserver reports.

    Northern Sweden has had the largest temperature increase in the Barents Region during the last decade. Between 2004 and 2014, the average annual air temperature went up 1.4 degrees celsius. The county of Västerbotten has had a particularly big jump. Just in...