News review of the events on the NSR
#1 November 2020
1. NSR, icebreakers, geological exploration. Mishustin gives instructions on the Arctic
The strategy for the development of port, railway and airport infrastructure in the Russian part of the Arctic, calculated for the next 10 years and for the period until 2035, must be submitted to the Government of the Russian Federation by May 31, 2021. It will provide a comprehensive solution to the issue and create conditions for increasing the volume of transportation of export and transit cargo along the Northern Sea Route.
The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Rosatom have been appointed responsible for the strategy, according to the website of the Government of the Russian Federation. By December 4, they, together with the Ministry of Energy, should also submit a long-term forecast of cargo traffic in the water area of the Arctic zone of Russia. This and a number of other instructions were given by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin following a working trip to the Murmansk region.
Some of the instructions signed by the head of the Government concern the further build-up of the icebreaker fleet to ensure year-round, regular and safe navigation in the water area of the Northern Sea Route, including the eastern direction. The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Development and Rosatom are obliged to submit agreed proposals on this issue to the Government by December 25, 2020. In addition, they will have to work out financing arrangements for the construction of new icebreakers. In the longer term, the relevant ministries will have to solve the issues of installing multi-beam echo sounders and acoustic profile recorders on ships under construction. The equipment is required for conducting deep-sea bathymetric studies. The deadline to perform of this order is February 1, 2021.
Another series of instructions is devoted to the organization of rescue activities in the water area of the Northern Sea Route and the Russian part of the Arctic. In particular, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Economic Development, together with Rosatom, are obliged to develop a draft comprehensive plan for the development of emergency rescue infrastructure. It should provide for the creation of special centers equipped with aviation technology adapted to work in the Arctic, sea vessels, technical means and equipment for personnel. The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Economic Development, together with Rosatom and Roscosmos, were instructed to submit to the Government an action plan for the development of the emergency and rescue infrastructure of the Marine Rescue Service in the water area of the NSR until 2035. Orders must be completed by December 25, 2020. In addition, by the same date, proposals will have to be drawn up to maintain the continuous operation of the orbital group of radar observation of the Northern Sea Route water area.
The Government’s plans also include an increase in the program of comprehensive geological and geophysical works on the continental shelf to ensure the reproduction of the mineral resource base of hydrocarbons in the Arctic zone of Russia and the Far Eastern Federal District. The Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy should submit their proposals on this issue by December 18, 2020. By mid-December, they were also instructed to present initiatives to tax incentives for geological exploration in the Russian part of the Arctic.
In addition, by the end of the year, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Ministry of Economic Development should submit to the Government a draft law that would ease the requirements for potential residents of the Arctic zone among small businesses. The obligation to make capital investments in the creation or modernization of real estate objects will be excluded for such entrepreneurs. It is assumed that the Government will determine a specific list of economic activities where such a condition for obtaining a resident status will not apply.
2. Putin discussed with Sechin the start of “Vostok Oil” project
The practical implementation of “Vostok Oil” project has begun. The president talked about this at a meeting with the head of Rosneft. By 2024, up to 30 million tons of oil will be delivered to the Northern Sea Route via the Sever Bay. Igor Sechin asked for help with the availability of credit resources for contractors.
The area of work is about 2.5 thousand km from Krasnoyarsk to the north. Prospecting and exploration work is underway, a site for oil gathering and treatment units is being prepared, design and exploration work has been completed for the construction of the main pipeline and the port of Sever. “First of all, the projects will ensure the production, transportation and transshipment of up to 50 million tons of oil per year; the second stage – up to 100 million tons,” Sechin said.
The infrastructure of the project also includes the construction of energy facilities with a total capacity of 2.5 thousand gigawatts, more than 3.5 thousand kilometers of power grids. An order for 10 tankers of high ice class Arc7 has been placed. In total, the project will be serviced by 50 vessels of various types. A long-term contract was signed for the supply of up to 100 Russian-made drilling rigs.
“For the timely implementation of the project, we mean the tasks that are set for loading the Northern Sea Route, by 2024, we have undertaken to deliver up to 30 million tons already along the Northern Sea Route through the Sever Bay,” Sechin said. Therefore, the availability of credit resources for contractors and equipment manufacturers is of great importance, he explained and asked the president to help in solving some issues in this direction.
3. Icebreaker “Arktika” started work
The nuclear-powered icebreaker “Arktika”, the newest and largest in the world, completed its first pilotage in the waters of the Northern Sea Route: for two days it supported the general cargo ship “Siyanie Severa” to the port of Sabetta. The voyage was successful – Atomflot was satisfied with the icebreaker work in the Ob Bay. After replenishment of ship’s stores, it will return to the Arctic route.
On October 21, the national flag of Russia was raised on the icebreaker in Murmansk. “The icebreaking nuclear fleet is a serious competitive advantage of Russia,” Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. “And of course, its expansion is a powerful investment in the future. First of all, this is an impulse for the development of the economy of both Russia and the region.” “This is a confirmation of the absolute and indisputable leadership of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region,” said Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev.
Recently the icebreaker was tested for the first time on a working voyage. On November 14, the ship left the port of Murmansk, adjustment work was carried out on it at anchorage in the Kola Bay, not related to the nuclear power plant, and then it headed to the water area of the Northern Sea Route. On November 23, entering the Ob Bay, the icebreaker took the ship “Siyanie Severa” under escorting. The average speed of the caravan was 10-12 knots. On November 24, the escorting was completed in the port of Sabetta.
“The first call of the leading universal nuclear icebreaker “Arktika” into the Ob Bay demonstrated the efficiency of the vessel’s operation on the sea channel,” notes Leonid Irlitsa, First Deputy General Director, Shipping Director, FSUE Atomflot. – Excellent maneuvering characteristics, draft of the nuclear-powered ship allow it to guarantee safe icebreaker assistance at one of the busiest shipping sections of the Northern Sea Route”.
Meanwhile, new nuclear icebreakers of Project 22220 are expected soon in high latitudes. The next two vessels – “Sibir” and “Ural” – will be commissioned by the Baltic Shipyard in 2021 and 2022. The contract for the construction of the fourth and fifth icebreakers of this project, “Yakutia” and “Chukotka”, was signed in August last year, the deadline for their commissioning is 2024 and 2026.
4. New digital solutions for NSR based on machine learning
Rosatom has started to implement in pilot mode a digital service that helps to plan routes for ships along the Northern Sea Route, taking into account ice conditions and meteorological data. This was reported to TASS by Ekaterina Solntseva, Digital-director of Rosatom.
New digital solutions will work on the basis of machine learning and will optimize the pilotage times, fuel costs and will lead to an increase in cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route. Solntseva noted that this is only one of the digital solutions that are planned to be applied as part of the digitalization of the Northern Sea Route.
She also reminded that currently Rosatom has put into operation a system called the Headquarters for Marine Operations. This system allows to track the location of all ships, meteorological characteristics, ice conditions, receive operational data on incidents and events in the water area of the NSR and monitor transit flows. “This is already a fairly extensive system, which is planned to be put into commercial operation in the near future, but the General Director of Atomflot is already using it on a daily basis,” she said.