Arctic Weekly: International Forum, Polar Safety and an Arctic Railway

Photo: Nikitin Yaroslav/

Arctic Weekly: International Forum, Polar Safety and an Arctic Railway

In the focus:

- Organizers of the International Arctic Forum announced their plan to host the event in April 2022

- Russian Emergency Ministry intends to launch a major contingency exercise involving participants from US, Canada, Finland and Norway in the Russian Arctic this September

- Russian authorities discuss construction of a railway in the polar Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District

Circumpolar dialogue. The International Arctic Forum (also known as The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue), one of the major international events on high latitudes, will be hosted in St. Petersburg on 11-13 April 2022, organizers say. It will be themed around improving the quality of life in the High North, coordinating conservancy efforts, ensuring sustainable development in the Arctic, and promoting circumpolar cooperation.

Safety first. Russia’s Emergency Ministry has announced its plans to hold a major preparedness exercise on 7-8 September in 7 Russian Arctic regions. First responders from Finland, Norway, Canada and the US together with their Russian colleagues will take part in the event. The exercise will involve responding to 12 various emergency scenarios including such as an anthrax outbreak, underground fire at a mining site, oil spill in the sea and on the Arctic coast, ship accident, nuclear power plant emergency etc.

NLR update. The construction of the Northern Latitudinal Railway (NLR) is about to commence, officials say. NLR is a planned 707-kilometer-long railway route, which should link the western and eastern parts of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, opening up an access via rail to the region’s hydrocarbon deposits. The key issue -- that of funding -- appears to have been finally resolved, with the Russian National Wealth Fund making a pledge to at least partially cover the expenses related to the construction of the railway totaling about USD 6.8 billion. The remainder of the sum will be raised through low-interest infrastructure loans and concession contracts. The railway is expected to be put into operation by 2027.

Funds for nuclear power. The Russian federal government has allocated USD 1.1 billion for New Atomic Energy, a recently announced program to be implemented by Rosatom, the national nuclear monopoly. Under this program, Rosatom intends to design a series of low-capacity nuclear power plants to be deployed in the Russian High North. The idea behind this initiative is to develop a feasible solution for providing electricity to remote off-grid communities in the Arctic.

Arctic projects. The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East has hosted a round table on major investment projects to be implemented in the country’s energy and chemistry sectors in the High North. As part of the event, Russian companies presented their project portfolios to potential investors from mainland China, including a project to build a methanol plant in the Nenets Autonomous District.

Preferences and benefits. About 2.7 thousand new businesses have been launched in the Far East and Arctic owing to the introduction of preferential regimes and free economic zones. These measures have also helped create more than 180 thousand jobs and attracted more than USD 122.2 billion in investments.

Arctic hectares. Far Eastern Hectare, a major initiative enabling any Russian national to claim a land plot in the country’s Far Eastern and Arctic regions, has attracted an influx of applications. As stated by the Far Eastern and Arctic Ministry, more than 90 thousand people have already applied to take part in the program.

Norilsk renovation. A draft renovation plan for Norilsk (the world’s second largest city above the Arctic Circle), which will require a solid public investment, will be considered by the federal government in the near future. Federal funds for the plan are expected to be allocated in 2022.
Alexander Stotskiy
20 August 2021
Arctic Weekly