Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of July 15, 2015


New Store Norske subsidiary to focus on tourism, research
Store Norske is hoping a new subsidiary, Store Norske Momentum (SNM), will create 30 jobs in Longyearbyen by the end of next year in industries branching out beyond coal mining and real estate. Among SNM’s planned projects are a museum in the abandoned Mine 3 scheduled to open later this summer and an Arctic infrastructure/industrial research center at Svea. A subsidiary with a similar concept was part of an emergency financial assistance package Store Norske requested from the Norwegian government due to a crash in coal prices that resulted in large-scale layoffs had the company teetering on the edge of bankruptcy earlier this year. The government rejected the subsidiary, instead providing a 500-million-kroner package intended to keep mining operations alive until the end of next year. But Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland said funding for the new subsidiary will be evaluated separately.

Paint company opening test center in Longyearbyen 
Jotun, a major Norwegian paint company, is planning to open a research facility in Longyearbyen in late August to test its products in Arctic conditions. “Steel is exposed and broken down by the sun, wind and weather conditions,” said Svein Erik Andresen, Jotun’s global sales director, noting the company’s clients include oil giants with oil rigs in the Arctic. “Our task is to make sure that does not happen because we are protecting assets worth enormous sums.” LNS Spitsbergen is offering the company a site to build the center, likely at Sjøskrenten or Hotellneset because they’re highly exposed to weather. A subsequent agreement with UNIS, with Jotun possibly sponsoring a PhD program, will determine who will operate the research station.

Yet another odd sign of life
Add owls to the list of odd animal and plant species showing up in Svalbard, as researcher at The Arctic University of Norway at the University of Tromsø said he photographed a ground owl for the first time at Passhytta, during the annual reindeer census earlier this year.