The shortest trade route from Asia to Europe – the Russian Northern sea route – and is the least used. The project development path signed by the head of the government. What to do Russia to the Northern sea route has become a real rival southern routes through the Suez and Panama canals?
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday signed a comprehensive development project of the Northern sea route. Currently, each year on provozku goods on the Northern sea route shall be issued more than 600 permits, and the annual volume of transportation of cargoes is 4 million tons. “However, the potential measured during the period (the next) 15 years old – and that the timing of the implementation of the comprehensive plan – more than 80 million tonnes, that is 20 times may increase (volume of freight)”, – said the Deputy head of the Cabinet of Ministers Arkady Dvorkovich.
“The total volume of traffic in the past two years is on the same level. And when compared with transportation through the Suez canal, it is less than 1% of transit along the southern route”
“This goal must be obligatory”, – said Medvedev. This, he said, will exceed the traffic volumes that existed during the Soviet era.
The capacity of cargo transportation along the Northern sea route has been discussed for many years but Dmitry Medvedev himself admits that this way is used we still, to put it mildly, so-so.”
The strength of the Northern sea route
Now the main sea routes between the ports of Europe, Far East and North America go through the Suez and Panama canals. The Northern sea route could become a real alternative, and more profitable.
Firstly, it will relieve transcontinental shippers from pirate attacks to ships that have become extremely common on the southern routes.
Moreover, the “Islamic state” in the middle East and the war in Yemen in the future, you can cancel the shipments through the Suez canal, making them unsafe, says Ivan Andrievsky of the Russian Union of engineers.
Secondly, North sea albeit much shorter. “So, when you use the reference route Rotterdam – Yokohama distance along the southern route through the Suez canal is 11 205 nautical miles. When using the Northern sea route distance is reduced by 3860 nautical miles, i.e. by 34%,” – said in his report, the Chairman of the Commission of the Federation Council for national marine policy and the Deputy Chairman of the expert Council on the Arctic Vyacheslav Popov.
In addition to Russia, this route is also attractive for the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the EU as a whole, China and Japan for transcontinental transport of goods.
For Russia the Northern sea route is also an opportunity to develop relations with the countries of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. First and foremost, this route is important, of course, for transportation of mineral and hydrocarbon raw materials from the Arctic regions of the country.
In General, this way allows you to link the Western regions of Russia with the European North, North of Siberia and the Far East. For the Nenets Autonomous district sea transport, for example, is the only opportunity for transportation of goods and ensure the life of the population.
It is important that SMP can provide transportation not only in the direction West – East, but also in the direction North – South using inland waterways of the Siberian rivers.
However, there are many things that inhibit the transformation of the Northern sea route in real transport artery for the country’s needs, and for transit flows to other countries.
Slowly but surely
Heavy nuclear missile cruiser “Peter the Great”, the flagship of the Northern fleet, makes a massive hike in the Arctic. Immediately the other four nuclear-powered surface ship – icebreaker “Yamal”, “Vaygach”, “50 years of Victory” and “Taimyr” – were involved in unique transactions vehicle through the ice
Despite all the prospects of the Northern sea route, the development traffic has been slower than desired and planned.
Of course, over the past five years has managed to significantly increase the volumes of cargo – more than four times. So, in 2010 SMP moved less than 1 million tons of cargo, in 2012 – already 1.26 million tons, now increase to 4 million tons per year. But 4 million tonnes in 2013. And in the early 2000s, said that by 2015 will generally be 10 million tons a year of cargo transportation via the NSR. But expectations have not come true.
The total transport volume in the past two years is on the same level. And when compared with transportation through the Suez canal, it is less than 1% of transit along the southern route.
At the same time to keep the bar in 4 million tons of cargo annually managed last year only due to the growth of domestic traffic through the port of Sabetta, which was built in the Ob Bay on the Kara sea coast. While transit has fallen sharply from 1.2 million tons to 274 thousand tons.
Against this background, plans to increase the volume of cargo transportation along the NSR up to 80 million tonnes a year for even 15 years look pretty optimistic. However, with proper attention, finances and the work of such a task is not unrealistic. Only one port of Sabetta due to the plant “Yamal LNG” NOVATEK with Total, will allow to increase volumes of export of the goods to 16.5 million tons per year. To begin shipments from the LNG plant should be at the end of 2017 (the resource base of South Tambeyskoye field).
“Winter navigation in 2013/2014 for the first time began to deliver the goods created in summer in winter at the berths of the preparatory period for construction of the plant “Yamal LNG”. Winter 2014/2015 continued delivery of the cargoes to Sabetta”, – says the newspaper VIEW CEO of the Association of contractors of the Arctic projects “Murmanshelf” Olga Buch.
Moreover, the Sabetta port should turn into a multifunctional node of the Northern sea route, which can be used not only for gas export from Yamal, but also for the export of grain from Siberia, metals from the Urals, Kuzbass coal, petroleum products from Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.
Another important source for increasing the traffic on the SMP is the transportation of oil. In the summer of 2014 has begun the export of oil from the Novoportovskoye field. “From Cape Kamenny in the Ob Bay in the summer have taken about 100 thousand tons of oil. From February 2015, the continued export of oil to the ice floe – for three tankers of class Arc5 exported 48 thousand tons. And in the future is expected to export 5 million tons per year”, – says Olga Butch.
The platform “Prirazlomnaya” Gazprom Neft” is the first project on oil production in the Russian Arctic. The company ships the oil to Western Europe and promises to more than double production at Prirazlomnoe and Novoportovskoye fields in the Pechora sea, despite sanctions and a depreciating black gold.
In the future, transportation is expected to increase due to the exploitation and exploration of the Kara sea. Already in the summer of 2014 Rosneft together with ExxonMobil (until intervened sanctions) they drilled a well “University-1”. This is the most Northern well of Russia.
An important contribution to the development of the Northern sea route is also made by Norilsk Nickel. According to Olga Buch, now it is one of the major cargo owners in the waters of the SMP. Since 2006 the company operates its own modern transport ships double action, five containerships and one tanker with high leoprechting (up to 1.7 m). “This, of course, will the use of only part of the route SMP, but can not be ignored,” notes Butch.
And finally, there is a huge potential for the development of transit flows through the Northern sea route. And here you can place a bet on China, which, first, already uses this route. From 2010 to 2013 most of the cargo via the NSR drove it to China – more than 900 thousand tons.
And secondly, China promises to become the years major trade partner of Russia. And although last year the transit has fallen sharply, the growth potential is there. The Chinese, for example, want by 2020 to move on the Northern sea route 15% of the external traffic, and it is possible that they will be the leaders of the cargo transportation on the Northern sea route in the coming years, does not rule out Andrievsky.
Build, build and build
Officials took part in the opening ceremony of the Russian drifting station “North pole 2015
But to realize all this potential, we need to solve a lot of problems. Russia needs to provide full range of services at the highest level to secure supplies of goods exactly to the terms in any ice conditions, as well as to make them economically more attractive. For example, navigation on the route lasts only 3.5 months, which for many providers is inconvenient and inefficient.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide year-round icebreaking walking, full navigational and hydrographic service, emergency rescue system. Then SMP will be able to compete with the southern routes. All this is impossible without the construction of a new icebreaker fleet and port infrastructure in the Arctic.
Russia is already actively working on updating nuclear fleet, which now consists of six nuclear-powered icebreakers, one container ship and four ship maintenance. The resource of the current nuclear fleet is completed. Therefore, they need replacement.
At the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg in 2013 began to build the lead ship “Arctic”, which is collected already by 60%. This year the plant started construction of the first serial icebreaker “Sibir” (after the lead ship starts serial production), later must begin construction of the third nuclear-powered icebreaker of the new generation.
As a result, by 2020, Russia will receive three of the atomic icebreaker new generation capacity of 60 MW, the first in 2017, second and third in 2019 and 2020. The cost of two serial nuclear icebreakers of project 22220 is for 84.4 billion rubles.
It is important that these ships have the two-sedimentary design, which allows their use in Arctic waters and in estuaries of polar rivers. These three universal nuclear-powered icebreaker will be able to replace five operating icebreakers type “Arktika” and “Taimyr” and thereby reduce the cost of construction of icebreakers and their contents.
However, experts point out: to bring the navigation in the Eastern sector of the Arctic to year-round, you must also create two nuclear icebreakers of new types: ice breaker-leader with a capacity of 110-130 MW and the new shallow-draught icebreakers with a capacity of approximately 40 MW.
Drawing perspective project of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker, which is expected to become operational in 2017. He will be the next in a long line of legendary Russian nuclear icebreakers
Them now are under way developments. Yesterday at a meeting with Prime Minister Rogozin announced that by the end of the year Russia will submit a draft of the new nuclear superlethal who can break the ice thickness of more than four meters. Plus, a draft shallow-draught icebreaker required for pilotage, exporting the fuel from the project “Yamal LNG”. Also in the plans, according to Rogozin, to build about ten diesel-powered icebreakers by 20 MW. Russia – the leader in the field of construction of nuclear icebreakers, so the problems in this direction should not arise. Of course, with proper funding.
Another deterrent is the development of coastal infrastructure along the Northern sea route. The port of Sabetta is clearly insufficient. Last year it was decided to build a sea port of Indiga on the Barents sea coast, the power of which can reach 30 million tons per year. This project is very important because of Sabetta on the West through the Kara gate Strait to Murmansk almost 3 thousand km, but there is no port for vessels going through the Northern sea route. Arkhangelsk is not suitable for this.
Moreover, the port of Indiga almost does not freeze and will work year-round. And he will also be multifunctional, as Sabetta. The appearance of the port will provide an opportunity to develop Kumzhinskoe and Korovinskoe gas-condensate deposits with reserves of more than 160 billion cubic meters in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Here it is also assumed the construction of a plant to decrease natural gas. Moreover, the mainland of the NAO is rich in oil, so the plans to build oil terminals. Here also will place the base for the repair of the fleet and rescue center. Plans to build 610 km of the railroad Sosnogorsk – Indiga.
But this is not enough. To ensure safe navigation along the Northern sea route is still needed to modernize such Arctic ports of Khatanga, Tiksi, Pevek, Dudinka, Dixon, plus build new ports near the villages of Kharasavey, Pechenga and Varandey.
This requires serious money. Only the construction of a seaport in and Sabbetai Yamal LNG plant together is estimated at more than 1 trillion rubles.
The development of the Northern sea route is impossible without creation of navigation and map support. “Now the modern cards there is little on the level at which they should be,” says Dvorkovich. In addition, according to him, there is no full-fledged operating system of regulation of movement of vessels and the protection of seas from pollution, in particular protection from the oil spill. All of these tasks are in the plan.
In the 2000s, had already created several Arctic monitoring and correcting stations GLONASS/GPS. First appeared in 2003 in the Kara sea on the island of deer, in 2009, built two more stations on the Sterligov Cape and in the mouth of the river Indigirka. The plan to 2020 to create a network of such stations along the Northern sea route. In particular, these stations on the Islands Pole, Andrew and Kamenka.
According to Dvorkovich, work has also begun on the formation of the emergency infrastructure of the Northern sea route. “Already this year, will enable emergency services to the crews of the icebreakers, which carry out pilotage of vessels; it will also ensure the development of key seaports,” – said Deputy Prime Minister.
The main question that remains open in the current difficult economic situation is the financing of all these projects. In April Rogozin said that the funding “Arctic” programs for the next five years should amount to 222 billion rubles, including 160 billion roubles from the Federal budget. In reality, you need trillions.
“The problem of development of Northern sea route based on two “whales”: they need a significant cash inflow from investors and client base. In terms of sanctions and constant pressure on the Russian economy the first is harder to achieve than the second”, – says Ivan Andrievsky.
It is obvious that due to sanctions and falling oil prices, budget revenues decreased. In this regard, the planned cost of execution of government programs related to Maritime transport in the Arctic, were either reduced or increased the turnaround time, he adds. All this suggests that the real competitor to the southern routes, the Northern sea route can become closer to 2030.Related posts: