A MASSIVE new shipping port that will greatly improve access to the Arctic Ocean is to be developed in Iceland following an agreement signed this week by two local authorities on the islands, and the owners of the port of Bremen in Germany.

Bremenports and their Icelandic counterparts have been working on the project for 12 years. The German organisation has joined with two Icelandic municipalities – Langanesbyggo and Vopnafjaroarhreppur – as well as engineering firm Efla to build the deep-water port at Finnafjord in the north east of Iceland.

A memorandum of understanding between the partners has just been signed in Iceland, which has a population a little more than half that of Glasgow.

Bremenports will own 66% of the shares in the company set up to develop the port, while Efla will hold a 26% stake and the remaining 8% share will be co-owned by the two Icelandic municipalities which together have a population of around 1500.

When finished, possibly sometime in the 2040s, Finnafjord will have up to 6km of quays with up to 1200 hectares of industrial development surrounding the port area.

Bremenports’ CEO Robert Howe told High North News: “The change in climate will result in an economic development in this region. The location of the Finnafjord harbour will permanently change international voyages and can lead to significant environmental benefits, as this will reduce emissions.”

Bremen state senator for economics, labour and ports, Martin Gunthner, said: “The harbour project in Iceland offers a concrete long-term perspective for a development that will certainly go on for several decades. It creates conditions for the sustainable development of the Arctic and helps to make developing new shipping routes safer.

“The project offers great development opportunities for a structurally weak region. It is an honour that bremenports can take part in this project at the request of Iceland.”

Leader of centrists pays price of failure

The National: Outgoing Finnish prime minister Juha SipilaOutgoing Finnish prime minister Juha Sipila

WITH the exception of Theresa May, the normal price of failure by a political party’s leader is resignation or the sack – and yesterday the leader of Finland’s Centre Party, Juha Sipila, paid that price.

The outgoing prime minister of Finland’s party turned in its worst-ever election performance with just 13.8% of the vote.

Sipila said the outcome left him no choice, not least because he has always preached the principle of “tulos tai ulos”, which roughly translates as “results or you’re out”.

Yesterday, he bowed to the inevitable, a fate that was made certain when the Centre Party put out a statement admitting that it was heading into opposition.

Sipila will step down at a special party conference on September 7, having led the Centre Party since 2012 and been his country’s prime minister since 2015.

He continued to head a caretaker government after his three-party coalition resigned in March ahead of the election.

He blogged: “The Centre Party deserves a new and inspiring start. The party will begin its transformation and draw up a reform programme. The party’s strong future will be established with a new chairperson.”

Like everyone else in Finland, Sipila will now await the formation of a new coalition government led by the election winners, the Social Democrats.

Sipila wrote: “Party leaders and the prime minister in particular quickly become stale as figureheads of their parties. This has also happened to me. As party chair my responsibility is to safeguard the party’s interests.”

Malta takes lead in key Nato project

A COUNTRY with a population less than a 10th that of Scotland is taking the lead in a vital Nato project to ensure the security of our communications in future.

Malta – independent from the UK since 1964 and a republic since 1974 – is a determinedly neutral country and is not a member of Nato, though it has a long-standing relationship with the organisation.

Nato has encouraged Malta to lead a project that is looking at quantum technologies and their possible effects on communications.

As explained by Nato: “Quantum computers can carry much more data than traditional computer systems. This huge computational power theoretically makes it possible for quantum computers to break the traditional cryptographic systems on which our current communications systems, such as online bank transactions or telecommunications, are based.”

Experts from the University of Malta are now taking a leading role in devising solutions designed to be secure against an attack by a quantum computer.

Joining the Maltese are experts from the Slovak University of Technology, the Florida Atlantic University and King Juan Carlos University of Spain.

A pipeline is also to be laid between Malta and Italy using submarine optical fibre cables to pave the way for quantum communications to be used between the two countries.

Professor Andre Xuereb, project director from the University of Malta, said: “In the future, quantum technology will be necessary to protect our critical infrastructures and services. These projects anticipate this trend and help Malta to prepare for future secure technology.”

Alfred Vella, rector of the university, said: “These projects could reshape the security architectures of the future.”