Poker has never really been my cup of tea! But I must say that observing the huge pokergame currently being played for Arctic hydrocarbons and mineral wealth is worth all my attention. One player looks at the others impenetrable gaze before upping the stakes.
In only the last few months we have seen a Chinese delegation led by President Hu visit Denmark and just last week, the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak led a delegation to Greenland.
The increased international attention is not unwarranted, the opportunity is potentially huge. Under the melting ice lies an abundance of natural resources, mainly in the form of energy reserves. According to estimates the region is home to around 22% of the earth’s remaining reserves ofoil and gas.
In addition to oil and gas theminingindustry offers much development potential both in Greenland, where opportunities range from rare metal earths to gold and precious gems, and in the Nordic countries as a whole. In future the Arctic mining industry will need new technology for projects and a wide range of logistics investments in roads, ports and handling equipment. For example, one of Europe’s largest gold mines was opened in Kittilä, Finland in 2009 and other mines are in the planning stage.
The melting of ice in the Northern sea routes offers perhaps the largest long term business opportunity as it may transform the world’s logistics flows for the future. We are talking long term here though, as the most optimistic assessments predict safe year-round traffic in the Northeast and Northwest Passages only some decades from now. But just imagine a future where sailing right through the North Pole along the Northwest Passage could shorten transportation time between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans by about one third – and significantly cut CO² emissions at the same time.
UK Trade & Investment teams in the Nordic countries monitor and report on Arctic business opportunities as and when they arise. The teams strive to secure major long term contracts for UK investors, developers, suppliers and service providers within oil & gas, mining and shipping industries in the Arctic region.
As you can see, there is good reason why the eyes of the world‘s major players are all turned toward the Arctic region right now. Lloyds estimate that the Arctic is likely to attract substantial investment over the coming decade, potentially reaching £100bn or more.
Worth a game of poker, don’t you think?