Tag Archives: coal crisis

Power hungry: 20 witnesses detail Svalbard’s future needs during Parliament hearing on revised ‘white paper’

arildhearing

It’s a long wish list and not exactly new, but now it’s officially on the agenda of the deciders.

An underwater power cable from the mainland, revised air traffic regulations, speeding up development of the fishing industry, investing heavily in infrastructure and figuring out what to do with Store Norske were among the many items presented by 20 witnesses last week during a hearing by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Heavy load: Last shipment of coal from Svea also means reluctant end for some longtime residents

sveaminer

Even after 39 years of working at the mines there’s no seniority rule to save Kjell Pettersen’s job or to keep him from being forced to leave Svalbard.

The 64-year-old is preparing for the trip he takes to Thailand at then end of every mining season. But this time the return journey will stop short of the archipelago as Store Norske, which officially ceased mining at Svea on Saturday, no longer needs the services of the company Pettersen works for.

It’s official – we’re in a depression: 16 percent drop of Svalbard’s economic activity in 2015 fueled by 40 percent drop in mining and transport

shipunload1

A depression is defined as a 10 percent drop in economic activity or a downturn lasting more than two years. Svalbard has already blown through the first qualification with a 15.8 percent drop in activity in 2015 and stands a good chance of meeting the second this year.

The downturn was caused by a 39 percent drop in mining-related activity, which in turn fueled a 43.1 percent drop in transportation and storage, activity, according to Statistics Norway.

But despite the sharp downturn, employment in the archipelago actually rose one percent compared to 2014 due largely to increased activity in tourism and recreation, with tourism surpassing mining as the biggest employer. That may be a sign of Longyearbyen making a quick and drastic change from its century-long history as a coal mining one due to what the agency described as a “rapid growth in part-time jobs.”

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 26, 2016

coalsummer16

Coal prices rebound, but not enough for profitable mining
Store Norske’s final months of full-scale mining-related activities are both busy and more lucrative than expected as prices have risen from a low of $41 a ton earlier this year to about $60 a ton in mid-July.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 12, 2016

footies

Unauthorized dogs face euthanization upon arrival
People arriving in Svalbard with dogs without obtaining the necessary permission and vaccinations risk having the animal euthanized, according to a Norwegian Food Safety Authority official who said one owner faced that situation during the past weekend.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 22, 2016

dieseltrouble

Low-quality diesel a threat to cars; new fuel offered free
Vehicles filled with diesel between Feb. 19. and March 17 are at risk of engine failure due to low-quality fuel meant for boats being delivered to Svalbard Auto, according to Frank Jakobsen, administrative director of LNS Spitsbergen.

‘Only’ a 530M kr. loss: Store Norske’s deficit shrinks in 2015 from 902M kr. in 2014 as drastic downsizing continues

What may have been Store Norske’s last year of “regular” coal mining was not a good one by any means, but it was a lot better than the year before that led to the near-total shutdown of operations.

The company lost 530.3 million kroner in 2015, compared to a record loss of 902.2 million in 2014, according to its four-quarter report for last year. It lost 189 million kroner during the last three months of last year, compared to 677 million in 2014.

High price of failure: Government recommends additional 749M kroner in aid, loans for Store Norske over four years

anotherbailout

The price of keeping Store Norske barely alive keeps increasing, with the government now asking Parliament for 749 million kroner during the next four years to support operations at Mine 7 and maintenance of two larger mines in the hope coal prices recover.

Coal’s future is past: Opening of Svea to tourists seen as sign of Svalbard’s rapidly expanding polar night activities

basecampsvea

Visiting a 100-year-old patient on his deathbed sounds like a tough sell in a tourist brochure, but it seems there’s a burgeoning market in Svalbard for the cold-hearted.

Svea will begin the first-ever guided tours for recreational visitors Feb. 1, only a month or two before mining is scheduled to stop for at least three years – and possibly permanently – due to a collapse in coal prices.

Into blackness: Svalbard’s 12 biggest stories of 2015

topstories15

It was already a shell-shocked community beginning to say their farewells to possibly a quarter of the town’s residents, with those left behind worrying about the future of a town with a decimated economic foundation.

Then the avalanche struck.

Either alone ranks among the most significant events in Longyearbyen’s history. Together they may reshape the town more dramatically than at any time since it was almost entirely destroyed during World War II.