Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Greenland blog 17: a snapshot of industry

The edge of Maniitsoq, Greenland. Image copyright Margaret Sharrow, 2008.

These storage tanks on the edge of Maniitsoq held oil and or diesel, I assume, vital resources that like so much else in Greenland, must be imported. (I didn’t know at the time, but Maniitsoq is the operational base for Polaroil.) The cost of food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, was astronomical, and being a shoestring budget traveller required careful shopping. However, one surprise was the price of petrol and diesel, which was far less than in Britain, more on a par with the United States. Either it was little taxed, or state subsidised. In any event there wasn’t very far to drive, even in Nuuk, though it is true that people tended to leave their motors running during short stops. During the winter this is essential, because it takes such an effort to start a motor when the temperature is well below zero. However, it is a habit that carries over into the summer months, as I saw in Nanortalik. 

Industry in Greenland is in the process of changing as new prospects open with global warming. This may be an unexpected statement in the light of global warming generally presented by the media as being nothing but a disaster for arctic regions. However, it was apparent from Suluk, Air Greenland’s trilingual inflight magazine, that new opportunities are presented by possibilities for Arctic Sea shipping routes from Siberia to Canada, which will inevitably dock at Greenland. Furthermore, new developments in mining in Greenland are on the cards, with new mines opened or projected to open to exploit resources such as lead and zinc. There are also possibilities for offshore oil drilling, though after BP’s experiences in the Gulf of Mexico, it will pose a huge technical challenge and must be approached with great caution. 

Aside from fishing, there are other smaller industries in Greenland such as production of high-end fashion, particularly using local materials such as seal fur, and  book publishing. And, of course, there is a substantial income from tourism, which I was contributing to in my small way. 

30 August 2008 08:27 recalled 21 January 2011



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