Novatek touts Arctic LNG projects at Norwegian conference, declines media questions

A view taken on December 7, 2017 shows the Yamal LNG plant in the port of Sabetta on the Kara Sea shore line on the Yamal Peninsula in Arctic Russia. (Maxim Zmeyev/AFP/Getty Images)
A top company leader speaks warmly about international energy cooperation in the Arctic, but keeps journalists in the cold.

Bjørn Gundersen is Deputy Director of Novatek’s LNG Projects Department and plays a key role in the company’s grand development of the Arctic LNG 2, one of the biggest energy projects in the Arctic ever. He spoke in this Thursday’s Neighbor Conference in Kirkenes, Arctic Norway.

The event was open to the public. It was organized in connection with this week’s 75 year commemorations of Soviet liberation of Kirkenes.

About 15,000 people will have their jobs in the Arctic LNG 2, and Murmansk will become among the world’s leading centers for building of oil and gas facilities and platforms, Gundersen said and highlighted that “this is now in the making.”

The company representative is responsible for the development of the Kola Yard, the plant for construction of floating LNG platforms for the Arctic LNG 2.

About 10,000 people are now involved in the building works at Belokamenka, a few kilometers from Murmansk, Gundersen said. The three platforms to be built on site are combined three times bigger than the largest offshore installation ever built in the North Sea, he made clear. The construction of the first of the platforms started in June this year.

According to Gundersen, he might be the only Norwegian working in Novatek, but there are a number of Norwegian companies involved as subcontractors in the Arctic LNG 2 project. Among them are Dr Techn. Olav Olsen, Concrete Structures, Trelleborg, IKM, Tschudi Shipping and more.

Bjørn Gundersen was very clear that he foresees a stronger future involvement of Norwegian companies in the LNG project. “After all, Kirkenes is only 250 kilometers from Murmansk and it would be tragic if we do not manage to succeed with cooperation,” he told the audience in Kirkenes.

Media brushed off
Bjørn Gundersen, Deputy Director of Novatek’s LNG Projects, refused to speak with journalists. Archive photo. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Novatek’s projects in the Arctic have far-reaching implications for local communities, economy and environment. But Bjørn Gundersen and Novatek are highly reluctant to share their views with the public.

When requested to respond to a question about Novatek’s activities in Murmansk, the company representative abruptly rejected.

“I can not take any questions from the Barents Observer, nor from any other media,” he underlined and referred to the company press department.

The questions were subsequently forwarded to Novatek’s press departments.

No response from the company’s Moscow office had come by the time of publishing this report.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: First Nation demands northern gov enforce benefits agreement for oil & gas work, CBC News

China: US sanctions against Chinese shipping company could hurt Russia’s LNG exports, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Another dry well for Norway’s Equinor in promising Arctic area, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Reloading facility in northwest Russia to help Arctic LNG reach global markets, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Seattle council votes to withhold business from oil companies that explore Arctic Refuge, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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