The seminar Arctic Shipping and Offshore Operations organised on Wednesday April 16th was very popular. The seminar took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague and was visited by 75 participants. Knowledge was exchanged about operating in a unique area like the Arctic. The seminar, organized by HME, Canatec and IMARES Wageningen UR and supported by TKI Maritime, aimed to exchange knowledge, to discuss the balance between ecology and economy, and to discover opportunities for the Dutch industry.
Chairman of the seminar, Prof. Dr. Eijsackers from Wageningen UR, opened the seminar with a presentation on trends that affect the Arctic as a source of economic resources. Trends such as climate change, receding sea ice, a growing world population, an increasing demand for resources such as oil, gas and minerals and growth of Arctic tourism, all have an impact on the Arctic . The central question here is: how can the Dutch industry find a balance between ecological vulnerability and the potential economic opportunities that the Arctic offers ?
One possible answer lies in the development of the IMO Polar Code. Unlike non-binding guidelines such as the IMO Arctic Guidelines (2002) and the IMO Polar Water Guidelines (2009) , the IMO Polar Code gives a binding international framework, with commitments in the areas of safety, operations (navigation, communication , etc. ) and the protection of the environment.
In addition, cooperation within the Dutch industry is very important. Not only to make research efforts less fragmented but also to find a niche market where Dutch parties can compete. Examples? Wagenborg Offshore was one of the first companies operating in the Caspian Sea, where it operates under severe ice conditions and in shallow water (sometimes with only 30 cm of water). Heerema is one of the leading parties in the Joint Industry Project "Arctic Operations Handbook” . The Maritime Institute Willem Barents operates worldwide as a trainer for crews operating in ice fields. IMARES Wageningen UR has an Arctic Program where arctic research is performed on the effects of new activities on the Arctic ecosystem and TNO has the technical knowledge to enable safe shipping. Canatec is active in the areas of on board risk identification and the associated remote sensing along with other Dutch clusters.
The arctic conditions require state of the art of the ship and all components on board. As shown by the presentation of Wärtsilä : "for our propulsion products this is a Formula 1 market. If the Dutch industry wants to operate on this Formula 1 market, then focus, cooperation, cooperation, dialogue ánd finding a niche markets are key priority. Slowly, but surely.