News

News

September 2017

Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre to hold panel at Arctic Circle, Reykjavík, October 13

The Centre will be hosting a breakout session at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Harpa Conference Centre, Reykjavík on October 13th at 2100-2200. The session examines governance of oil and gas activities in the Arctic with a view to promoting equitable hydrocarbon development under the control of Arctic inhabitants and to their benefit with particular emphasis on indigenous peoples. Professor Indra Øverland, from NUPI will present the results of a recent research project comparing and ranking corporate processes to ensure indigenous rights in Arctic extractive industries. Professors Anne Merrild Hansen and Rachael Johnstone, directors of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre follow with an analysis of the experiences and views of Greenlanders from South and East Greenland, examining whether there are significant differences in priorities between those who live close to mining projects and those who live hundreds of kilometres away. Eduardo Pereira, from Externado University, Colombia, completes the panel with an examination of the position of non-operators in Arctic oil and gas joint ventures, seeking to improve the balance between rights, responsibilities and benefits which will in turn improve the attractiveness of investment.  The panel is chaired by Anita Parlow, of the Wilson Centre, in Washington DC. 

Please click here for speaker biographies and paper abstracts. 

Wine and soft drinks will be served to participants. 

The full conference programme for the 5th Arctic Circle Assembly is available here.

 

Parnuna Egede explains Greenland‘s position on the new Minimata Convention on Mercury

Parnuna Egede, PhD fellow at Ilisimatusarfik and member of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre, explained the Minimata Convention on Mercury and discusses Greenland‘s controversial decision not to become a party at this time to the High North News. The Convention came into force in August 2016.

Mercury is a long range transboundary pollutant that bioaccumluates in the Arctic. This means that its use and disposal elsewhere in the World has serious health impacts for Northern people, especially Inuit, as it becomes ever more concentrated in the food chain. Health impacts include learning difficulties and behavioural difficulties.  

The Inuit Circumpolar Council was instrumental in raising the alarm and pushing for the Minamata Convention that aims to phase out mercury mining and the use of mercury in gold-mining and manufacturing.

However, despite the impacts of mercury on Inuit, Egede believes that the Greenlandic government has decided to prioritise social issues at this time.

The full article can be read on the High North News website.

 

August 2017

Anne and Rachael in Nuuk and Tasiilaq, East Greenland

Anne and Rachael were in Nuuk from 14th – 19th August where they participated in the EIT Raw Materials 3rd ArcHub meeting on 16th and 17th August. Anne delivered a paper examining conflicts around uranium mining, with case studies from Narsaq and Saskatoon.  

Anne and Rachael then travelled to Tasiilaq to talk to representatives of the local community. Continuing the themes of their trip to South Greenland in May, Anne and Rachael met people working in tourism, education, waste management and healthcare sectors as well as local politicians and others to hear different perspectives on economic development and extractive industries.

A briefing note and photos from the trip will be published soon.

 

May 2017

Rachael interviewed for Nuuk TV news on the rights of indigenous peoples and the UN system

Ilisamatusarfik graduate Nina-Vivi Andersen interviewed Rachael for Nuuk TV news. Nina-Vivi asked for Rachael‘s expert opinion on the communication by the former Minister of Industry, Labour, Trade, Energy and Foreign Affairs to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Special Rapportuer on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment and the Special Rapporteur on the Implications for Human Rights of Environmentally Sound Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Wastes. The communication was later withdrawn by the minister‘s successor. The communication pertains to the responsibility to clean up toxic pollution from American military sites in Northern Greenland. 

Rachael told Nuuk TV news that although when Americans were granted permission to construct and operate their bases, there was no consultation with the Greenlandic people, this was not wrongful at the time because in the 1950s and 1960s, there was no duty to consult or to obtain free, prior and informed consent from colonial or indigenous peoples. However, since the lands concerned are still contaminated, there is an ongoing wrongful act and hence a responsibility to restore the lands so that they can returned in safe, clean and usable condition to the indigenous inhabitants. 

Rachael also explained the anyone can make a communication to the Special Rapporteur and there is no requirement for the author to be personally affected or even resident in the region. The UN will keep these confidential to protect those complaining against their governments from repercussions and will contact the government concerned, without necessarily disclosing who made the allegations. However, in this case, the Minister sent the communication in the name of the government and not as a private citizen, which has created political tensions. 

The interview was broadcast on 19 May 2017 and can be viewed here

 

May 2017

Anne and Rachael to visit South Greenland, May 2017

Anne and Rachael will be traveling to Qaqortoq and Narsaq to discuss attitudes to the extractive industries and visions for the future of Greenland. They will meet community and business representatives from, amongst others, local government, agriculture, the mining industry, Qaqortoq Museum and Narsaq brewery.

Anne and Rachael will be in Qaqortoq from 19th – 22nd May and in Narsaq from 22nd – 25th May.  They will follow up this trip with a visit to Tasiilaq, East Greenland, from 19th – 23rd August.

If you would like to meet with Anne and Rachael during their visits, please email them at: Anne: merrild@plan.aau.dk and Rachael: ralo@uni.gl.

 

May 2017 - continued

We welcome visiting researcher, Sarah Mackie

Doctoral student, Sarah Mackie, will be visiting the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre in the late Summer/early Fall of 2017. Sarah is a PhD candidate at Newcastle Law School in the United Kingdom. 

Sarah is writing a thesis on the subject of comparative environment law in the Arctic, considering the role of the courts in environmental protection in the Arctic regions of Europe and North America. During her visit to Greenland, Sarah will be concentrating on the environmental protection in Greenland and researching Greenlandic court cases which have considered the environment, in particluar cases relating to oil and gas permitting.  During her PhD, Sarah has held visiting researcher posts at the University of Lapland and Harvard Law School.

Sarah holds a law degree from St John’s College, Cambridge University and an LL.M in Environmental Law from Newcastle University.  Prior to beginning her PhD, Sarah worked as an extern for Trustees for Alaska, an environmental public interest law firm based in Anchorage, Alaska and was Judicial Assistant to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.  Sarah is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and teaches Public Law and Contract Law at Newcastle Law School.

Rachael and Anne look forward to working with Sarah and sharing research on means to promote and ensure socially responsible, sustainable and equitable development in the Arctic.

Sarah is keen to meet with representatives from the Greenlandic legal community and with anyone who has experience of environmental law in the Greenlandic courts.

Sarah can be contacted by email at: s.e.mackie@newcastle.ac.uk.

 

March 2017

Download our "Annual Report 2016".

 

February 2017

Rachael Discusses Indigenous Rights at Tufts University

Rachael joined the Fletcher Arctic VI Conference at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston on 17th and 18th of February. She took part in a panel on Legal Implications in the Arcticalongside distinguished scholars Timo Koivurova, Suzanne Lalonde and Oran Young. Rachael‘s paper examined how the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) may clash with indigenous rights to hunt the polar bear and the narwhal in the Arctic. 

Download Rachael's presentation here.

 

January 2017

Rachael gives expert evidence to the High North Inquiry of the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee

On 25th January 2017, Rachael gave expert evidence to the UK House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee on 25th January 2017. The Committee is conducting an inquiry into Scotland‘s relations with the High North, examining the potential contributions Scotland can make in light of the rapid changes facing the region.

Rachael submitted written evidence in the Fall and was invited to the first oral evidence session of the inquiry where she answered questions put by Members of the House of Commons with a view to helping the Committee prioritise topics for further investigation.

A transcript of the session as well as Rachael’s written evidence to the Committee is available from the inquiry website.  Rachael is the first scholar to have written about contemporary links between Scotland and the Arctic States in an article published in the Arctic Yearbook in 2012. 

 

October 2016

On 7th October 2016, The Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre held a Breakout Session at the 4th Arctic Circle Assembly to discuss the Social Impacts of Oil And Gas Activities In The Arctic – Challenges And Benefits.

Unfortunately, Anne Merrild, who had organised the session and planned to speak on Social Impact Assessment in Oil and Gas Development: Community Experiences from Greenland and Alaska, was stuck in Greenland owing to bad weather.

Rachael hosted the session, introduced the Centre, and introduced the four excellent speakers who presented as follows:

  • Anita L. Parlow, Fulbright-MFA Arctic Scholar at the University of Akureyri and National Energy Authority: Toward an Arctic Standard in the New North: Projected Considerations by Iceland and Norway in the Jan Mayen Offshore
  • Brigt Dale, Senior Researcher, Nordland Research Institute, Norway: The Post-Petroleum Perspective: Is There Security to be Found Beyond the Oil Ontology?
  • Natalya Novikova, Researcher, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences: Anthropological expert review in Russia: Goals of researchers and expectations of indigenous peoples
  • Emma Wilson, Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University: Ethics and practice: implementing international social performance standards in Arctic extractive industry contexts

Around fifty people attended the session and a lively discussion followed each paper. 

On 8th October 2016, Rachael delivered two additional papers:

 

May 2016

Rachael presented the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre at the Arctic Circle Forum meeting in Nuuk on Wednesday 18th May. She used the opportunty to explain the objectives of the Centre and to encourage interested parties to come forward with comments and proposals for the research agenda.

 

Logo

Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre has got its own beautiful logo - designed by a talented Greenlandic graphic artist, Ivalu Risager.

The logo is inspired by Ilisimatusarfik’s logo featuring the women‘s boats. The line below the boats in the Ilisimatusarfik logo is referenced in the logo of the Centre. The waterline from the Ilisimatusarfik logo is then taken to reflect the silhouettes of the traditional Inuit dolls and the iceberg. The dolls symbolise the contemporary view of nature derived from traditional Inuit culture and places humans in the centre.

Oil can be found under the seas and in the mountains so the reflection of the iceberg and the Inuit dolls are seen to drip, like oil.

The choice of blue colour for the iceberg indicates the Arctic focus for the research centre. 

 

April 2016

Anne Merrild Hansen is currently in Fairbanks Alaska, where she will be staying for the next six weeks as a visiting scholar at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The purpose of the trip is for Anne to do fieldwork and work with experts from UAF to learn about the Alaskan experiences from oil and gas exploration and the impact on the small coastal community on Alaska's north coast, where oil extraction has taken place since 1976. Anne will, as a part of her trip, visit the towns of Barrow and Deadhorse and the village of Kaktovik.

The trip is funded by a grant from the US Fulbright Arctic Initiative, which aims to promote new research and knowledge sharing in the Arctic. Anne will prepare a briefing note on the results from the trip when she returns to Nuuk in August.

 

International LLM Opportunity for Established Oil and Gas Professionals

The North Sea Energy Law Programme is an advanced programme for practitioners from both public and private sector covering all aspects of energy law, offered by the Universities of Gronigen, Oslo, Aberdeen and Copenhagen.

Drawing on the expertise of the leading academics in centres of excellence located in the region that has seen perhaps the highest degree of innovation in energy law, it offers participants both the fundamental knowledge and the conceptual tools to deal with whatever challenges this exciting area of practice raises.

This unique programme is structured to accommodate busy professionals through concentrated periods of teaching. Each of the four courses is taught in a different centre in an intensive two-week block. The language of instruction is English.

The two-year programme starts every September and will last until June two years later. For more information, see the NSELP home page

 

March 2016

Anne and Rachael met selected stakeholders to refine the research priorities of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre, identify the most important areas for research, discuss opportunities for cooperation, and plan teaching at Ilisimatusarfik. Anne and Rachael met representatives from Ilisimatusarfik, the Greenland Institute for Natural Resources, the Mineral Licence and Safety Authority, Nunaoil, and WWF.

The Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre was formally launched at Ilisimatusarfik, Greenland on 16th March 2016. Tine Pars, Rector of Ilisimatusarfik introduced the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre and the two directors, Anne and Rachael. Anne explained the objectives, priorities and planned activities of the centre. The directors then each delivered a presentation in which Rachael discussed the importance of the legal framework in managing hydrocarbon activities and Anne explained the essential criteria for an effective environmental and social impact assessment process. Over fifty people attended the launch and participated in a lively discussion where they talked about their hopes and expectations for the Centre. Participants came from Ilisimatusarfik; the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources; Niuernermik Ilinniarfik (the Business College); the Ministry of Industry, Labour and Trade; the Mineral Licence and Safety Authority; the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS); the Greenland Business Association; Greenland Business; S.I.K. (the Labour Association of Greeland); Nunaoil; WWF; and Transparency International Greenland.


Seminar 17/10/17

This one-day intensive seminar explores the status of public participation in extractive industry decision making in the Arctic and look for ways to improve the quality of the experience and the results for all stakeholders

Read more & register