Investing in Arctic Russia’s future

January 23, 2009, 15:03 CET

The eternal gas flame at the “Memorial to victims and heroes of the great patriotic war” monument in Arkhangelsk, Russia, is also symbolic of a brighter economic future for the region. In the distance is the frozen Dvina River. (All photos: Harald Pettersen)

Russian and Norwegian dignitaries, students and journalists turned out this week for education grant awards and cooperation signing ceremonies between StatoilHydro and schools in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.


“Maybe I will go and study in Norway,” said smiling Murmansk student Victor Boyazitov, 16. Can he imagine a career in the offshore industry? “Oh yes. That’d be nice!”

“This is a very important occasion for north-west Russia and StatoilHydro. We’re signing agreements to train local students for opportunities in the region’s emerging oil and gas industry,” said signatory Bengt-Lie Hansen, StatoilHydro president Russia.

He was joined by Lyceum no.6 vocational school principal Grigory Shatilo in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk State Technical University director Alexander Nevzorov in Arkhangelsk.

Also present were Norway’s deputy foreign minister Elisabeth Walaas, Murmansk regional governor Yuri Evdokimov and Arkhangelsk vice-governor Elena Kudryashova.

Granting opportunity
Mr Lie Hansen handed out grants to 10 welding and machine operator students and two teachers at Lyceum no. 6, which has a total of some 1,000 students, and about 85 in the welding and machine operator courses. Most of the students are between the ages of 15 and 18. 


Kirill Izmikov, 20, a student at Arkhangelsk State Technical University, is a 2008 grant recipient and was an intern at StatoilHydro’s R&D centre in Porsgrunn last summer.

About one-third of the welding and machine operator students have grown up in orphanages, and most of the others come from homes run by single mothers.

Academic advancement
The students at ASTU are slightly older and more academically advanced.

“Russia’s offshore technologies are not yet developed and we need cooperation with technologically advanced companies,” says Kirill Izmikov, 20, a 2008 grant recipient and summer intern at StatoilHydro’s R&D centre in Porsgrunn last year.

Mutual benefit
“These programs are not only important for north-west Russia and the schools, but for StatoilHydro’s efforts to be an Arctic champion!” said Mr Lie Hansen.

“A cooperation between people means that you believe in an idea. We believe in you and I hope you believe in us. Together, we can make a difference.”


Signatories of the cooperation between StatoilHydro and Arkhangelsk State Technical University were school director Alexander Nevzorov, left, and StatoilHydro Russia president Bengt Lie Hansen. Looking on are Arkhangelsk vice-governor Elena Kudryashova, left, Norway’s deputy foreign minister Elisabeth Walaas, and two university students.


Building a workforce
StatoilHydro has been in Russia for more than 20 years and recognizes the acute shortage of qualified labour in the country’s far north.
“The start up of extensive offshore oil and gas developments in Arctic Russia will demand qualified professionals. In addition to engineers and managers, we need skilled workers,” said StatoilHydro Russia head of industrial development, Benedikt Henriksen.

The Shtokman offshore gas field development alone will create roughly 1,700 new onshore and offshore jobs in north-west Russia.