Stories

Barents Region climate changes faster than anywhere else in the world
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...
Lower price, bigger pain for iron miners
02/16/2015
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
Iron ore producers all over the Barents Region take crisis measures as prices drops to new lows. For the Swedish LKAB company, 2014 profits plummeted by more than 90 percent.The dramatic drop in iron prices is hitting Sweden's biggest iron miner with full force. In 2014, the company got its year-on-year operating profit cut by 93 percent, the LKAB Year-end Report reads. President and CEO Lars-Eric Aaro is now announcing a string of crisis measures, among them cost cuts of 700 million SEK (€73 million) and a staff reduction of 400 people, BarentsObserver reports.Prices on iron ore in late 2014 dropped to USD 66/ton, the lowest level in five...
How to power up Arkhangelsk?
01/21/2015
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
An ailing power industry looks for ways to modernize and get cleaner. A deal with China is seen as part of the solution.Arkhangelsk Oblast is heavily dependent on the themal power produced by TGC-2, the major inter-regional generating company serving five federal subjects in northwest and central Russia. The region's three main generating plants, one in Arkhangelsk City and two in the neigboring city of Severodvinsk, all remain in need of major upgrade.The plants, built in 1970, 1976 and 1946 respectively, were originally run on coal and heavy oil (mazut). After 2011, both the Severodvinsk Heat and Power Plant No 2 and the Arkhangelsk Heat...
Consumer price hike in Barents Russia
01/12/2015
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
The price for a normal Russian food basket is on a rapid increase as inflation in the country surges. Consumer price growth in the five Barents Russian regions in November reached its highest level in six years.The average inflation rate in five northwest Russian regions in November alone increased by more than one percent, BarentsObserver reports. The trend continued in December. In Murmansk, monthly prices on basic foodstuff like frozen fish, eggs and beef increased more than eight, twelve and six percent respectively, figures from the regional office of the Russian Statistical Service (Rosstat) show.Inflation in Russia has been stable...
Barents hydropower to a plug near you
01/08/2015
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
Finnish energy company Fortum is taking over control over hydropower capacities of Murmansk and Karelia. How important is hydropower for the Barents Region?In a comprehensive deal with Russian majors Gazprom and Rosatom, Fortum will become the full owner of all hydropower generating units in Murmansk Oblast, the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast, BarentsObserver reports.The deal secures the Finnish company control over a assets, which are of key importance for the economy of the regions in question. In Murmansk Oblast, hydropower accounts for about 40 percent of the regional energy generation. The region has several major...
Why Russians drink less
12/18/2014
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
Figures from Patchwork Barents indicate a major decline in alcohol consumption among Russians.Access to alcohol drinks in the country is far from as easy as only a few years ago, BarentsObserver reports.In many Russian regions, you will today not be able to buy alcohol beverages in shops after 9 pm and all kind of alcohol drinks, even beer, are no longer availble in street kiosks. All outlets selling spirits must today be no less than 25 square meter in rural areas and 50 square meters in towns. Furthermore, there has been a significant hike in alcohol taxation and subsequent prices.A key part of the new federal legislation adopted in...
Finns boost stake in Russian hydropower
12/03/2014
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
The Finnish company Fortum gets comprehensive ownership of hydropower capacities in Northwest Russia.The deal signed between the three companies will give Fortum ownership over all of TGC-1’s hydropower assets in Murmansk Oblast, the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast. In addition, the Finnish company will take over a 15 percent stake in the Fennovoima nuclear power project, BarentsObserver reports.In return, Gazprom and its subsidiary Gazprom Energy Holding will take over all of TGC-1’s thermal power capacities. The Territorial Generating Company No 1 (TGC-1) is one of the biggest electric power producers in Northwest Russia and has...
Traffic safety still on crash course
Figures from road authorities show that more than 600 people will die on regional roads in 2014.
11/21/2014
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
Despite improved road standards, lethal car accidents continue to haunt travellers in the Barents Region. The number of death collisions in higher in 2014 compared with the previous year.Talking to her regional government this month, Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun expressed major concern about the high number of people killed on regional roads. Figures from the road authorities show that a total of 60 people were killed in traffic accidents in the first nine months of the year, a 53 percent increase compared with the same period in 2013, BarentsObserver reports.The situation in Murmansk is not unique. After several years of decrease, the...
Which region is home to the biggest Barents Brains?
Patchwork Barents presents the latest data on higher education in the Barents Region.
11/19/2014
By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat
Higher education is becoming an increasingly common trend in the Barents Region, BarentsObserver reports. In the last twenty-three years (1990-2013), the average rate of higher education attainment in the Barents Region has almost doubled itself.The highest rate of tertiary education attainment can be found among the population of Västerbotten, Sweden. In 2013, 31.5 % of the population aged fifteen or higher held a higher (university level) education degree. The five Russian Barents counties rank relatively low, compared to the rest of the Barents Region. In Murmansk Oblast, which has the highest tertiary education rate on the Russian side,...
Amid crisis, falling unemployment
The national economy is faltering, but unemployment figures in Russia are historically low.
11/17/2014
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer
Figures from Russia’s State Statistical Service(Rosstat) show that unemployment in the country in September reached a record-low 4,9 percent, a decrease of 0,5 percent year-on-year and of more than one percent since early 2013, BarentsObserver reports.The figures were highlighted by President Vladimir Putin during the G20 Summit in Brisbane. According to the president, Russia is allocating ”significant resources” to the fight against unemployment. ”Now we have only 4,9 percent unemployment […] which is far better than many of our partners”, Putin underlined in a press conference.The situation is reflected also in the Russian regions,...

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