Photo: Balakin Vadim/GeoPhoto.ru
Minister Chekunkov Outlines Arctic Priorities
On 13 January 2022, Alexei Chekunkov, Russian Minister for the Far East and Arctic, gave an interview focused on key short-term priorities of Arctic development. Here are the main points made by the Minister:
- Warming is a grave challenge to the Russian Arctic, with permafrost thawing being of special concern. To be able to forecast changes that may affect buildings and infrastructure, the Nature Ministry is designing a permafrost monitoring system. The system will rely on temperature data provided by more than a hundred subterranean measurement probes.
- Dangerous as it is, warming may also spur development in the High North. For instance, with ice and permafrost melting, new deposits of oil, gas, gold and other minerals may open up. In addition, more and more land will become available for agriculture.
- As much as 80 million tons of cargo can be transported via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) by 2024, provided that new major development projects such as Vostok Oil are launched in time. It is also important to avoid imbalances that may impede freight growth on the NSR. In this light, at least two new icebreakers must be added to the existing fleet. It will also be necessary to adopt a national plan for ice class fleet modernization providing for, inter alia, a schedule for replacing aging vessels with new ones.
- An international commercial cargo line will be established on the NSR. An agreement on that matter has already been signed by Rosatom and DP World who have committed to work together to launch a pilot container line connecting Northwestern Europe and Southeastern Asia via the Russian Arctic. In turn, the Government intends to enact a package of incentives (including subsidies) that would support domestic transportation of goods through the NSR. In early 2022, rules for allocating subsidies will be designed, a carrier selected, and an annual freight schedule approved.
- A bill on the Northern Supply Haul (the annual supply operation for the Russian High North) will be submitted to the Parliament in 2022. It will set up a legal framework for this supply operation and introduce regulations for its procedures. A digital system will be put in place to better manage the supply process, with its pilot being currently tested in Yakutia. A total of about 600 locations, several thousand logistic nodes and several hundred vessels have already been registered in its databases.
- Arctic urban planning is crucial for improving Northerners’ lives. The Far East and Arctic Ministry and the Construction Ministry are working together to design a so-called arctic standard -- a set of recommended best practices and solutions (including international ones) for constructing new buildings and creating public spaces in the Russian Arctic.
17 January 2022