Photo: Shtrik Vadim/GeoPhoto.ru
Key Arctic Topics Discussed at an International Forum in St. Petersburg
On 2-4 December 2021, St. Petersburg hosted the XI International Forum Arctic: Today and the Future, one of top conferences on the Russian Arctic. Some 400 speakers gave their presentations at more than 50 events attended both online and offline by more than 2.5 thousand participants from 40 Russian regions. Here is a recap of key topics discussed:
- Environmental agenda was among top trends, with a special emphasis made on removing SMW from the Arctic. In this regard, the Clean Arctic project has been making a difference with more than 2 thousand people having collected 1.5 thousand metric tonnes of waste. The project is regarded as a good example of how successful a collaboration between volunteers, regional authorities and businesspeople can be.
- Alexei Chekunkov, Minister for the Far East and Arctic, gave an overview of the results achieved owing to the implementation of a package of laws adopted in 2020 to push forward the socio-economic development in the Russian High North. Since their enactment, 338 new projects worth some USD 15 billion have kicked off in the Arctic, while financial contributions made by the government have amounted to USD 1.3 billion. The new projects are expected to create some 28 thousand new jobs.
- The state of affairs in respect of the so-called Northern Supply Haul (the annual supply operation for the Russian High North) causes certain concern in light of the recent events on the Northern Sea Route (NSR). To improve its mechanisms, a new federal law may be required, the Far Eastern and Arctic Ministry says.
- The NSR is crucial for expansion in the Arctic. According to Rosatom’s Deputy CEO Viacheslav Ruksha, in 2025-2030, the NSR will become operational all year round, while in 2031-2035, an international transit shipping lane to connect Europe and Asia will be launched on the NSR.
- The Trade and Industry Ministry is engaged in 23 major projects concerning the Arctic, including a project to design and launch production of Russian-made equipment for shelf drilling. Another such project is to build gas tankers running on diesel fuel and LNG for the Arctic LNG 2 plant to be constructed on the Gydan Peninsula.
- Arktika, the first of a powerful new series of nuclear icebreakers being built in Russia, is headed back to the Arctic after completing acceptance tests, while its sister ship Sibir will be commissioned this year. Rosatom believes that two more such icebreakers may need to be built along with several LNG-powered icebreakers.
- A scientific team from the Siberian Department of the Russian Science Academy found no contaminants or other harmful substances in fish sampled in the water bodies that might have been affected by the 2020 Norilsk oil spill. According to Dr. Nikolai Yurkevich, the manager of a research project to monitor environmental changes in the spill area, first lab tests show no alterations typical for fish populations whose habitats have been contaminated by oil.
6 December 2021