• 05/30/2014
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, Barents Secretariat

    If you are looking for coal in the Barents Region, Komi Republic is the place to look, BarentsObserver reports. Komi is the only Barents subregion directly involved in coal mining. Production is operated by the company Severstal and comprises mainly two key subdivisions, Vorkutaugol and Intaugol. 

    Over the past twenty years, the annual output at Vorkutaugol and Intaugol has fallen with 46.6 percent. In 1990, their combined production was close to 30 million tons. In the period between 1990 and 2002, production fell drastically to about 12.9 million tons. 

    The decline was primarily caused by an unfortunate turn of events in Russia’s mining sector. In 2002, domestic coal markets collapsed, which lead to a...

  • A comprehensive overview of production trends and developments in the richest minerals and metals region in Europe is now available.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Patchwork Barents has compiled production data from all the main industrial sectors in the Barents Region, including both the Nordic and Northwest Russian areas. Among the data series now available are figures on iron ore, nickel, apatite, diamonds, coal, copper, silver and gold. 

    «Mining and metallurgy are driving forces in the Barents regional economies, and we want to want to keep the pulse on the industry», project data manager Liza Vassilieva says to BarentsObserver. She has been assembling open data on the regional industrial output ranging from the Komi Republic in the east to Nordland County in the west.

    «Industrial production figures from the region show a substantial increase in activities in several counties on the Nordic side, while the situation on the Russian side is dominated...

  • In 2000, the average inhabitant of Nenets Autonomous Okrug earned $1,460. Twelve years later, the average annual income had increased by 1650 percent to $24,100.
    By Elizaveta Vassilieva, The Norwegian Barents Secretariat

    Figures from Patchwork Barents show the development of the average annual income over the past decade. Though the overall trend has been positive in all parts of the Barents Region, growth in Nenets Autonomous Okrug has been the most remarkable, BarentsObserver reports.

    Nenets has the highest average income per capita not only in the Barents Region, but in Russia as a whole. In 2012, the average monthly salary in Nenets was 62,570 roubles ($2,029), substantially higher than the average salary in Moscow (around 50,000 roubles). Even more importantly, the average salary rate in Nenets is growing faster than in other parts of Russia. 

    The highest salary recipients are pedagogical workers, oil workers and physicians (...

  • The Kremlin says it is ready to support a major social and economic development upswing for the economically weakest area in the Barents Region. What is the state of affairs in the Republic of Karelia?
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Figures assembled at Patchwork Barents show that the Republic of Karelia is the economically weakest area in the whole Barents Region. That could soon change. At least if judging from signals from the Kremlin. During President Vladimir Putin’s late April visit to the region, an ambitious economic revitalization plan was revealed. Not only will the federal authorities put a stop to Rusal’s plans to close the Nadvoitsy aluminum melter and instead introduce a major restructuring program for the plant. Moscow will also invest in several other key parts of the regional economy, BarentsObserver reports.

    In a meeting with regional lawmakers, national Security Council secretary Nikolay Patrushev confirmed that federal...

  • Shipping companies prepare for a summer with record-beating Arctic shipping.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    Speaking to his National Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin in late April highlighted that at an economic development model for the Northern Sea Route must be elaborated and that cargo turnover on the route should amount to at least four million tons in 2015, reports. The president also stressed that Russian-registered vessels...

  • More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. There is an excessive number of reindeers over parts of the Arctic, experts warn.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    In few weeks, the number of reindeer at the Kolguyev island dropped dramatically by almost 15 percent, reports. The mass death is a result not only of difficult weather conditions on the island, but also of an excessive number of animals.

    According to veterinary authorities in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the situation for the Kolguyev reindeer comes as local herders over several years have boosted the number of animals to a critical level. The local herders now have a total of more than...

  • Northern Russians and Finns are the by far biggest drinkers in the Barents Region. They are also the ones with the highest homicide and suicide rates, figures from Patchwork Barents show.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    The Barents Region is topping international statistics on alcohol consumption. And the further north you go, the more frequent are the toasts.



    Thirsty northerners

    In Finland, people in the northernmost region of Lapland consume almost 30 percent more alcohol than the national average. In 2012, the average per person consumption of pure alcohol in the region amounted to 10,7 liters, which is two liters more than in the neighboring...

  • Murmansk has the quickest-growing aquaculture industry in the Barents Region, and is seeking reduced import-dependence of neighboring Norway.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    As northern Norwegian regions have expanded fish farming for decades, Russia has become the biggest market for Norwegian marine products. In 2013, Norway exported as much as 6.6 billion NOK (€789.6 million) to Russia.

    Meanwhile, northern Russian regions have been trying to develop their own aquaculture industries. Now, results are coming. According to figures assembled by BarentsObserver, Murmansk Oblast in 2012 produced a total of 16,900 tons of salmon, a 320 percent increase from year 2009. Also in the neighboring region of Karelia fish farming is picking pace. There, a total of 17,600 tons of trout were produced in 2012, up from 11,700 tons in 2009.

    A further rapid increase in output is in the process. Authorities in Murmansk expect to have a total regional production of 25,000 tons in 2015. There are two companies...

  • Only two of ten Russians in the Barents Region say they do regular physical exercise. Will the Olympic Games in Sochi help the Russians get better shaped?
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    “This is the new face of Russia”, Dmitry Chernyshenko, the president of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, underlined in his speech at Sunday’s grand Olympic closing ceremony. Russian athletes were the fittest of all, and the country became the most-winning nation with a total of 13 gold medals.

    For a record-beating sum of more than €37 billion, Russia has successfully organized the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.

    But will the Olympics have an effect on the average Russians’ engagement in sports and physical exercise?

    Figures assembled by Patchwork Barents show that the Russians are far less physically active than their neighbors in the west. In the Russian part of the Barents Region, an average of 18 percent of the population say they do physical exercising “on a regular basis”. The situation is the worst in...

  • The Swedish county of Västerbotten has an election voter turnout of more than 85 percent and a 56 percent stake of women in its regional parliament.
    By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

    The northern Swedish region with a population of close to 260 thousand has top ranking in the world’s leading country on democracy issues and women’s participation. Figures assembled by BarentsObserver show that Västerbotten in its last regional parliament elections (2010) had a voter turnout of as much as 86,2 percent. Furthermore, contrary to the situation in most other regions, the turnout is on the increase compared with the previous two elections.

    The results put Västerbotten far ahead of its neighbors in the Barents Region.  Data from northern Finland, Norway and Russia show a picture of considerably less voter activity. In Barents Russia, the election turnout is the lowest with the Republic of Karelia as the worst-off region (44,4%). In northern Finland, voter turnout in the last municipal elections were 61,1 percent and...