Top of the World Telegraph – Vol. 6, Issue 28: 3 November 2010

4 11 2010

News from around the Region
Alaska/United States
U.S. Coast Guard policy banning substandard ships (MarineLog, 11/03/10)
The U.S. Coast Guard has released policy letter 10-03, Banning of Foreign Vessels. It outlines Coast Guard procedures for denying entry of certain foreign flagged commercial vessels into any port or place in the United States as a result of the vessel’s history of operating in a continuous substandard condition in waters subject to United States jurisdiction. This policy aligns the U.S. Coast Guard with other SOLAS signatory flag States who currently have policies and procedures in place for processing vessels that repeatedly operate in a substandard condition. 
Alaska/United States
Alaska town rolls out remarkable support for new ‘Build A Plane’ project (Aero-News Network, 10/29/10)
With a population of less than 800 people, Talkeetna, Alaska residents came together in force to offer assistance to a proposed new Build A Plane program. “We have been so energized by the enthusiasm and excitement shown in Alaska for Build A Plane. This Talkeetna project and others like it will certainly help in the classroom with science, math, engineering and technology skill-building and hopefully inspire many kids in Alaska to consider aviation as a career,” said Lyn Freeman, founder of Build A Plane. Build A Plane supports three other programs in Alaska, two in the Native villages of Hooper Bay and Chevak, and another in Begich Middle School in Anchorage.
The Arctic is a long way from Canada’s search and rescue techs (NunatsiaqOnline, 11/01/10)
According to the Department of National Defence, “each Canadian Forces aircraft deployed on a search and rescue mission includes two search and rescue technicians [SAR techs]. These individuals are highly trained specialists who provide on-scene medical attention and rescue for aviators, mariners, and others in distress in remote or hard-to-reach areas.” But the problem is that these SAR techs are stationed at bases far away from most of these “remote or hard-to-reach areas.” And while the SAR techs may be trained in Arctic rescue, they aren’t based anywhere near the Arctic. This challenge will become even more pronounced in the future as the North becomes “busier,” with increased polar overflights, maritime shipping, and economic development, says the Conference Board of Canada. Includes map of SAR regions.
In air cargo business, it’s speed vs. screening, creating a weak link in security (The New York Times, 11/02/10)
Experts say air cargo poses unique dilemmas because of the vast volume of packages and the patchwork system of regulations governing inspections. In addition, air cargo moves both on airlines that carry only freight and on passenger planes. And the freight industry is by no means uniform. There are giant players like FedEx and U.P.S. and hundreds of small companies. For now, freight carried on all-cargo planes does not have as stringent screening requirements as freight on passenger planes. Also, foreign carriers that bring cargo into the United States operate by their own sets of rules, which vary significantly from country to country. Related article: World airlines call for better cargo-screening.
Four EU states face legal action over Russian bilateral (Flightglobal, 10/28/10)
Four European states – Germany, France, Austria and Finland – are facing legal action from the European Commission over their bilateral air service agreements with Russia, partly because they include controversial provisions for Siberian overflights. The Commission estimates that European Union carriers paid $420 million in charges, mostly to Aeroflot, in 2008. Bilateral agreements with non-EU countries must contain a designation clause explicitly stating that terms cover all EU carriers equally, not simply those of the EU state participating in the bilateral.
Russia’s air transport agency eases flight rules for small aircraft (RIA Novosti, 11/01/10)
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia, has eased the rules for flights by small private planes, a statement by the organization said. Under new federal rules, Russian air space is divided into three zones according to permitted altitudes for various classes of aviation. Small private planes are permitted to perform flights within the G zone at an altitude of 300 to 4,500 meters and pilots no longer have to ask for flight permission from air traffic controllers. They now have to notify aviation authorities of their flight data in order to receive information and emergency alarms, the statement said. Related article: 24-hour flight rule lifted for private pilots.
Lufthansa confirms interest in SAS purchase (The Local, 11/03/10)
German airline Lufthansa has declared its interest in buying Scandinavian competitor SAS, with a spokesperson describing the firms as a “perfect couple.” Lufthansa have been one of the driving forces of the consolidation of the European airline industry in recent years. Rumours of a interest in SAS have long been circulating and the firms already operate a significant number of code share services out of Scandinavian destinations. Meanwhile, SAS, in which Norway, Denmark and Sweden together hold half the stock, has been hard-hit by the rise of low-cost airline Norwegian and by plunging passenger traffic numbers in the wake of the global economic crisis.
Other Areas of General Interest
Alaska/United States
Shell and North Slope Borough join forces for Arctic research (Alaska Dispatch, 10/28/10)
Shell and the North Slope Borough have agreed to work together on scientific research offshore in the Arctic in an effort aimed at ending political and regulatory fights over exploration and development. Shell will pay for the research, and the borough will manage the program. It will be guided by a 14-member steering committee that includes one representative from each of six coastal communities, two state agency people, two executives from Shell, and four scientists picked by the borough from a list put together by Shell.
Polar Commission still lacks board after 2 years (CBC News, 11/02/10)
Benoit Beauchamp, executive director of the Arctic Institute of North America, said the two-year absence of a board at the Canadian Polar Commission, Canada’s lead polar research agency, could mean misspent money and missed opportunities in the field of northern research. The commission is a federal advisory agency set up in 1991 to monitor, promote and disseminate scientific research on Canada’s Arctic. It has been operating without a sitting board of directors since October 2008 because the federal government has yet to appoint members to the board.
Northern research grants given (, 10/29/10)
Scientists researching the Arctic have two new sources of potential funding as two sets of grants were announced by the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The pools of money will provide grants of several million dollars each, spread over five-year periods, for large-scale projects. Some are for pure science research while some are for partnerships between university scientists and industry. Study areas are expected to include fresh water, sea level, permafrost, weather patterns and biodiversity, as well as social factors that affect the North and its inhabitants. Related blog: Cold cash for cold science.
Flood close to Iceland volcano expected to peak (IceNews, 11/03/10)
Water levels in the Gigjukvisl River in south Iceland, close to Grimsvotn volcano, have risen by about 40 cm overnight. The Grimsvotn volcano eruption in November 2004 lasted for one week but no glacier burst proceeded. Volcanic ash from the volcano fell as far away as mainland Europe; however no disruptions to air traffic were caused. Related article:
Flooding at Iceland volcano could signal eruption.
Visa-free zone for Norway and Russia (Views and News from Norway, 11/03/10)
Norway’s border with Russia opened up, at least a bit, when the two countries agreed on a visa-free zone that will allow residents on both sides of the border to cross it more easily. Residents can apply for a so-called grenseboerbevis (border traffic permit) that Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said will “significantly simplify travel for border residents, and will thus facilitate increased contact between Norway and Russia.” An estimated 9,000 residents of Sør-Varanger on the Norwegian side and 45,000 persons on the Russian side will be covered by the agreement.
Microsoft to open R&D center in Russia’s hi-tech hub (RIA Novosti, 11/01/10)
U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. will establish a research and development center in the Skolkovo innovation hub near Moscow.  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the R&D center would focus on the cloud computing technologies both for Russia and the rest of the world. Cloud computing providers deliver business applications on-line that come from other web servers. Skolkovo, dubbed Russia’s Silicon Valley, is being built from scratch 20 kilometers west of Moscow. The center will focus on research in five priority spheres: energy, information technologies, communication, biomedical research and nuclear technologies. Related article: Micromanaging Skolkovo.
Russia may respond to Canada’s tightened visa rules (RIA Novosti, 10/29/10)
Moscow may respond to tightened visa rules for Russians wishing to visit Canada, an official spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said. Canada released a new non-immigration visa application form where Russian applicants are required to give details concerning their military service including police or civil defense units and to provide information on the unit and its location where they served.
Opinion: Moscow is ready to assume constructive leadership in the High North (BarentsObserver, 10/28/10)
Moscow is by far the major regional player in the Arctic. The Arctic is also important for Russia’s security equation serving as a base for the country’s most important Northern Fleet. Positive and pragmatic relations with neighbouring countries and the settlement of territorial disputes are necessary for the successful extension of Russia’s continental shelf.
Alaska/United States
Alaska city looks underground for energy (APRN, 11/02/10)
The Fairbanks North Star Borough will use federal money to investigate local geothermal energy potential. $1 million from the Department of Energy is being put out by the borough as a request for proposals to develop a model and technology for turning underground heat into electricity. Fairbanks is already on the geothermal map for the successful development of a power plant at Chena Hot Spring Resort. Includes audio link.
Extensive corrosion threatens BP pipelines in Alaska, risking explosions, spills (The Washington Post, 11/02/10)
The extensive pipeline system that moves oil, gas and waste throughout BP’s operations in Alaska is plagued by severe corrosion, according to an internal maintenance report generated four weeks ago. In 2006, two spills from corroded pipes in Alaska placed the company’s maintenance problems in the national spotlight. At the time, BP temporarily shut down all transmission of oil from the North Slope to the continental United States, cutting off about 8 percent of the nation’s oil supply, while it examined its pipeline system.
Salazar proposes formation of ocean energy safety institute (Oil & Gas Journal, 11/02/10)
U.S. Interior Sec. Ken Salazar proposed the establishment of an ocean energy safety institute to facilitate research and development, training, and implementation of safe standards and practices. The institute would involve other parts of the federal government, particularly the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Coast Guard, as well as experts from the oil and gas industry, academia, and the scientific community, according to Salazar.
Alaska says U.S.G.S. presenting incomplete picture of NPR-A potential (Alaska Journal of Commerce, 10/29/10)
State officials are taking exception to a new U.S. Geological Survey assessment that sharply downgrades the oil potential in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Alaska state oil and gas director Kevin Banks said his agency respects the technical ability of U.S.G.S. scientists who prepared the assessment, but said the analysis was based in incomplete data and does not reflect the full potential of the reserve, which covers much of the western part of the North Slope. State and industry geologists believe the oil-prone geology of the Colville Delta region, on state lands near the northeast corner of the reserve, extends to the northwest along the coast.
Analysis: Nothing to stop petroleum exploration in Lancaster Sound (The Vancouver Sun, 11/02/10)
The environment group that joined this summer with Inuit leaders to block the Canadian government’s proposed seabed survey of Lancaster Sound says a new legal analysis of the ecologically sensitive Arctic water body shows petroleum exploration could proceed in the area unless federal agencies take protective action.
Native environmentalism and the Alberta oil boom (Miller-McCune, 10/27/10)
The starkly different takes on how much damage oil extraction in Canada is doing to the environment have cast into sharp relief a policy in which the country and its top oil-producing province claim to be eco-friendly world leaders. Enshrined in Canada’s federal Environmental Assessment Act and splashed across Alberta government websites are repeated commitments to give the experience of aboriginal peoples more weight in resource development. But as the stakes rise – Alberta is now the United States’ top foreign source for oil – some critics question the very premise of that “progressive” policy.
Replacing coal in power plants would take years (Helsingin Sanomat, 11/01/10)
Replacing coal with renewable fuels in power plants in the Helsinki region and west coast, would take years, and cost hundreds of millions of Euros. The changes are being planned, but power companies are waiting for a state aid package in their investments, as well as the establishment of a functioning wood fuel market.
Russian expert: Norway will back out from Shtokman (BarentsObserver, 11/03/10)
The agreement between Russian and Norway on delimitation of the Barents Sea will result in Norway concentrating on more easily accessible resources and withdrawing from the development of the Shtokman gas field, a Russian scientist believes. 
Netherlands, Denmark ask for more gas from Gazprom (RIA Novosti, 10/29/10)
Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom has received requests for higher gas deliveries from the Netherlands and Denmark, Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said. Gazprom’s head of Foreign Relations Department Stanislav Tsygankov said the company maintained its plan to increase gas exports to Europe, its largest export market, to 180 bcm per year by 2020, adding that 2010 gas exports would be at last year’s level or nearly 140 bcm. Tsygankov has said Gazprom expected European demand to return to pre-crisis levels by 2012.
Transneft starts pumping technological oil to China (RIA Novosti, 11/01/10)
Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft began testing the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline Nov. 1by pumping technological oil to China, the company’s spokesman said. China will receive 650 metric tons of technological oil during the trials. Commercial oil deliveries, to total 15 million metric tons annually in 2011-2030, are to begin on January 1, 2011. The pipeline is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels (220,000 tons) of crude per day from Siberia to Russia’s Far East and then on to China and the Asia-Pacific region. Related article: Russia begins oil pipeline shipments to China, part of Siberia-to-Pacific link.
Color bind: New study finds wind turbine color may play role in bat fatality rate (Scientific American, 10/29/10)
It is clear that wind turbines kill bats. They also kill birds, but studies have consistently shown bats to be more prone to death by turbine. The data also indicate that certain species of insectivorous bats, in particular migratory, tree-roosting species, are especially apt to fly into turbines. One theory is that the bats approach the turbines in pursuit of insect prey. Now, a new study suggests that simply changing the color of wind turbines to hues less attractive to insects could reduce the number of bugs that congregate around the turbines, which could in turn reduce bat deaths.
EU-Iceland mackerel talks flounder (EUObserver, 11/02/10)
A seafood ban slapped on EU candidate nation Iceland is in the offing as negotiations over mackerel quotas for 2011 flounder. Reykjavik rejected a Norwegian proposal backed by the European Union that the north Atlantic nation be awarded an increase in its mackerel quota to 26,000 tonnes next year, up from its earlier 2,000-tonne limit. Iceland, which has unilaterally upped its quota to 130,000 tonnes for the coming year, rejected the offer.
Speed installation of system to monitor vital signs of global ocean, scientists urge (ScienceDaily, 11/01/10)
The ocean surface is 30 percent more acidic today than it was in 1800, with much of that increase occurring in the last 50 years. But despite the seriousness of these changes, the world has yet to deploy a complete suite of available tools to monitor rising acidification and other ocean conditions that have a fundamental impact on life throughout the planet. The Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), representing 38 major oceanographic institutions from 21 countries and leading a global consortium called Oceans United, will urge government officials and ministers meeting in Beijing to help complete an integrated global ocean observation system by target date 2015. It would be the marine component of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems under discussion in Beijing by some 71 member nations of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations.
Climate Change
Arctic lake yields planet’s most continuous record of ancient climate (Wired, 11/02/10)
Scientists now have the most continuous record of ancient climate ever extracted from the terrestrial Arctic. The record – cored through sediment layers at the bottom of a lake in northeastern Siberia – also illuminates what happened when a big meteorite smashed into the spot 3.6 million years ago, when the ground was warmer and forested as opposed to the barren tundra it is today. Comparing similar data from the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica can show how the two polar regions – which are more sensitive to climate change than temperate or tropical latitudes – react differently to changing temperatures.

Alaska/United States
Alaska broadband rates well above national average (Juneau Empire, 11/02/10)
A new global research database has ranked Alaska as one of the locations that charges the most for broadband Internet service. Net Index, a service of Ookla, found that the value index for Alaska’s broadband is $16.47 per megabit while the national average is $6.13 per megabit. The global average is $4.46. The state did come out ahead in a few aspects. Alaska’s quality index through the R-factor was 83.03 and the national average was 81.31. The data also shows Alaska as having a promise index of 95.65 percent. The national average was 92.87 percent and globally it was 86.9 percent. The promise index is the percentage of speed or service that one is paying for and actually receiving.
Rivada Sea Lion selects Alaska Communications for broadband wireless professional services contract (EarthTimes, 10/28/10),1521413.html
Rivada Sea Lion LLC received $25.3 million in grant monies from the funding earmarked for broadband investments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) 2009. Rivada Sea Lion’s professional services contract with Alaska Communications is for the design and engineering of Southwest Alaska Broadband Rural Expansion (SABRE) broadband wireless network in rural Alaska. SABRE will provide high-speed broadband Internet service, for the first time, to 53 rural communities in southwest Alaska, serving a 90,000-square-mile area with nearly 30,000 residents.
Bell Canada, Aliant get permission for rural wireless broadband plan (TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 11/01/10)
Sister telcos Bell Canada and Bell Aliant have been given permission for a plan to use wireless instead of wireline technology for fulfilling broadband rollout obligations in rural areas of Quebec and Ontario, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced. As reported by Network World Canada, the operators may use HSPA+ wireless data networks to serve 112 communities in the two provinces, after revising a plan which had previously been rejected by the regulator; a decision issued in August 2010 said they must use DSL as wireless services would not offer the same data speeds/volumes/features as their copper-based counterparts in urban areas – effectively ‘discriminating’ against rural dwellers.
TDC deploys Alcatel-Lucent solutions to boost broadband network (TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 10/28/10)
French-U.S. vendor Alcatel-Lucent has announced that it has been selected by Danish telecoms operator TDC to prepare its network for the delivery of ultrafast broadband. TDC hopes the deployment will help Denmark become among the first nations to achieve the targets of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, which aims at providing every European citizen with 30Mbps broadband by 2020.
Rostelecom in talks to buy 51.8 pct in National Telecommunications (RIA Novosti, 11/01/10)
Russia’s National Media Group (NMG) may sell a 51.8 percent stake in National Telecommunications (NT), one of the country’s leading cable broadcasting companies, for about $1.5 billion, with the most likely buyer being long-distance carrier Rostelecom, business daily Vedomosti said.
Mediamir plans to launch VoIP alternative using SkyLink number capacity (TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, 10/29/10)
Mediamir, part of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s RBK Holding group, is developing a new, improved VoIP service known as QIP, reports Kommersant. Although incoming VoIP calls are permitted in many countries, this is not the case in Russia, leading Mediamir to work towards an alternative service. The latest version of QIP, as implemented by Russian service provider Mango Telecom, was unveiled in September 2010. Thus far, like Skype, it only permits one-way voice traffic, but a source close to Prokhorov has told the press that new technology is currently being tested for incoming calls.




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