Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic
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Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.
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Chapter 6: Subsurface politics: Greenlandic discourses on extractive industries

Mark Nuttall


The frontier is being imagined, made and pushed back in contemporary Greenland. International energy and mining companies have identified the potential for this self-governing territory of the Danish Realm to become a significant source of new mineral and oil extraction for the global economy. In recent years, interest has grown in the possibility of developing mines and in oil exploration opportunities in offshore waters (Nuttall 2012, 2013), and companies from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and several other countries have been setting up offices in Nuuk, the country’s capital. This growing, energetic Arctic city of some 15 500 people often seems awash these days with geologists, prospectors, engineers, scientists, consultants and entrepreneurs as it assumes a strategic role as a base supporting extractive industries in administration, logistics and exploration. Foreign workers transit to and from seismic survey vessels and oil exploration drilling rigs in Davis Strait and pass through other towns along the west coast, while oil companies send experts and consultants into small, remoter communities of hunters and fishers in the far north around Baffin Bay to carry out social baseline studies and environmental impact assessments. Charter helicopter services are increasingly in demand to fly teams of geologists deep into valleys and to the edge of the inland ice.

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