Accepted paper:

Mobile working in the cold: conditions of labour in the Russian Arctic petroleum sector


Gertrude Saxinger (Austrian Polar Research Institute)

Paper short abstract:

Resource exploitation in the Arctic demands increasing mobility and consequently a multi-local lifestyle due to fly-in/fly/out operations in the Petroleum sector

Paper long abstract:

Since the 1980s, and especially over the last two decades, long-distance commute work (LDC) has become increasingly important for the provision of workforce in the oil industry in the Russian North. Resource exploitation, which is occurring in areas ever more remote from urban agglomerations, demands increasing mobility and consequently a multi-local lifestyle. Furthermore, LDC is cheaper than recruiting from among the local population along with expanding resource communities. This makes LDC attractive for the industry that is involved in the dynamics of a globalized neo-liberal market economy. This paper discusses contemporary labor conditions in the oil industry in the remote Russian Sub-arctic, while looking back at the Soviet era legacy, and attempt to explain the perceptions of employees today on their working conditions. The quality of labor conditions is variously perceived by employees and depends to a great extent on whether people work with large corporate companies or in one of the many sub-contracting firms. Furthermore, a large portion of workers work under conditions of so-called wild commuting (dikaya vakhta). In these many cases companies bypass labor laws, safety and security regulations, or do not pay the salaries agreed.

panel P020
Polar mobilities: resilience and transformations (ANTHROMOB)