Heating up: the Arctic

Heating up: the Arctic

In January, Russia revealed it would inject $3.7 billion into its Arctic regions to stimulate growth and development. This figure

Photo: PJ Hansen

Photo: PJ Hansen

In January, Russia revealed it would inject $3.7 billion into its Arctic regions to stimulate growth and development. This figure will be matched, and possibly doubled, by the country’s private sector.

In pursuit of his northern ambitions, Mr Putin will headline the International Arctic Forum on Wednesday, where 1,500 attendees will discuss how best to exploit and transport the region’s mineral resources.

There’s little doubt that the Arctic holds vast riches; a recent US Geological Survey suggested the region holds roughly a quarter of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbons. But getting minerals out of the ground in such a hostile environment remains complicated and prohibitively costly, particularly in an age of low oil prices.

Aside from hydrocarbons, the Arctic may soon become an ocean superhighway. With the onset of global warming, ships carrying goods from East Asia are now able to traverse the previously frozen Northern Sea to access European markets for two months a year. This route is almost a third shorter than the traditional Indian Ocean route, leading Mr Putin to prophesise that it’ll soon rival the Suez Canal.