Arctic marine technology is driven by resource extraction
The Arctic marine technology is first and foremost a question of utilization of natural resources: gas and oil, minerals and timber. It is also necessary for food consumption–Arctic fishing stocks for harvesting and a few new international trade routes: the Northeast Passage also known as the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passages to world markets. Natural resources belong to the core interests of industrialized nations growing demand for basic commodities e.g. lead, zinc, copper, iron, nickel, palladium, and platinum to name a few in addition to energy resources. From this perspective, Finland must re-evaluate its own economic and development strategies.
The strongest clusters and products in highest demand of Finnish Arctic marine technology are the environmental protection technology, meteorology and weather forecasting, including essential controls and monitoring systems for ice going vessels. There is strong demand of these products and services and as measured by employment and profit. Rapid growth is forecasted in Arctic marine technology products in the coming decades with climate change opening up the Arctic.
The fastest areas of potential growth, as compared to the previous levels of business in terms of employment and profit, is in the research and drilling operations, offshore construction, and safety and rescue operations. Ship building traditionally is the strongest sector providing short-term and vital cash flow in the maritime cluster. The construction of new ice going vessels is supported by the transport and logistics systems with Finnish know-how and over 50 years of ice data developed the last hundred years out of necessity of shipping over ice packed waters in the Baltic and Arctic.
Post Cold-War shifts Russian interests to North promoting Northeast Passage
Strong prospective trends may increase the demand for Arctic marine technology. Numerous experts were interviewed using the Delphi method, revealed the main external trends affecting Uusimaa or the Helsinki area and the rest of Finland’s Arctic marine technology development are the growth opportunities of the emerging role of the North and technological innovations (progress) needed for sustainability. By interviewing panels of experts, the main external trends affecting the Uusimaa region and rest of Finland’s arctic marine technology development are the growth of new role of the north and technological progress. Russia’s North or the Arctic North is at the fore, due to growing demand for northern natural resources, especially in the growing demand for arctic minerals and oil and gas exploration, as well as in an increase in the political will for the benefit of the Northeast Passage. A key element of the North demand growth is also Russia’s economic interests shifted to the North as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The technological development, in turn, involves for instance the cost and nature-friendly transport, energy and environmental technology and information technology development.
The strengthening of cooperation in the Baltic Sea region is also an important trend. If Finland wants to benefit from the opportunities in the Arctic, the Finnish technology industry must develop closer cooperation with Russia. Yamal and Stokman gas fields need liquefaction facilities, mobile sea stations, storage and transportation vessels, service vessels and Arctic nuclear powered icebreakers. Finnish know-how is best demonstrated by innovative oil spill clean up products that have the potential to cluster with other actors in the Baltic Sea region. In addition, modernization of the Russian Navy, a fleet of roughly 2000 ships, will create new opportunities. On the other hand, if Finland wants to benefit from the opportunities in the Arctic, the Finnish technology industry has to have closer cooperation with Germany, a leader in many areas of technology.
The roots of cruise ship know-how are in the Arctic environment
Cruise ship skills can also look through ”Arctic spectacles” and can also meet the demand for Arctic tourism in Polar class vessels including the design of research vessels like the Auroura Borealis that may accommodate 120 people, with half being researchers and others. In recent decades, shipbuilding know-how was promoted heavily, enhancing Finland’s role as an expert in the construction of cruise ships. Cruise ship and ferry expertise is rooted in one feature of the Arctic environment, in other words in long distances and especially in Finland, for example Silja Line’s and Boren’s orders for cruise ships built in Finnish shipyards. In particular, the ship traffic between Finland Sweden has created the need for this particular type of know-how from the 1960s.
Know-how has been scaled, so that Finland manages 20 percent of the cruise ship market, and has manufactured the world’s largest cruise ships. In the ferry markets Finland dominates the field with 40 per cent. The field and manufacturing are competitive by themselves what is basically supported by domestic supply networks located nearby. In addition, competitiveness is supported by the Finnish strong project management know-how, whereby the work (the projects are) is done in a reliable and timely manner.
Finland experienced a decline in orders after the global financial crisis. The major role of state aid and selected line of action by authorities have eroded the Finnish position especially in the cruise ship markets. However, the demand of Arctic and ice-breaking know-how is increasing. Knowledge is critical to the Arctic super powers and they are willing to cooperate with the Finns. After all, Finland has manufactured 60 percent of the world’s icebreakers. Willingness to co-operation is manifested in a new Artech Helsinki Shipyard dock in Helsinki in 2010, where already the third ice-breaking vessel is being manufactured, and the fourth order to come from the Russian Ministry of Transport just before Christmas.
The author is a Senior Research Scientist, Ph.D., Yrjö Myllylä, from http://rdaluekehitys.net/. This article is based on a joint project of maritime industry with Uusimaa ELY center of, which is foresighting the Arctic marine technology opportunities for Uusimaa SMEs by 2030. For more information, visit the project www.amtuusimaa.net.
Jon McEwan, co-author and an independent researcher, collaborated with Yrjö Myllylä with Regional Development Ltd (RD Aluekehitys Oy) and he is Master’s student in the International Program of Human Geography at the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies at the University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.
Source: Myllylä, Yrjö & Jon McEwan (2013). Finland’s world class Arctic marine technology know-how. Baltic Rim Economies Expert Article 1245. Baltic Rim Economies 28.3.2013. Quartely Review 2/2013. Page 15. Pan Europe Institute <Baltic Rim Economies 2/2013 Special Issue on the Future of the Arctic >
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