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Chekunkov: Transportation from Norilsk Nickel, Gazprom, NOVATEK, Rosneft to multiply cargo shipments along the NSR in the next 10 years

09 february 2024

The Arctic has recently attracted increasing attention from the world's leading powers. This is the world's weather «kitchen», the pantry of natural resources, the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe and the shortest air route between the American continent and Eurasia.

Alexey Chekunkov, Russia's minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, spoke about this region and the implementation of state policy in the Arctic at first meeting of the spring session of the upper house of the Russian parliament.

“The Arctic is 28% of the territory of Russia, as well as 20,000 kilometers of maritime border, it has commodities which the entire world economy depends on such as gas from Yamal, metals from Taimyr, fertilizers from the Kola Peninsula and much more. There are 250 settlements in which 2.5 million people live, including 100,000 representatives of the indigenous peoples of the North,” Chekunkov noted.

According to him, in accordance with the approved strategy for the development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation until 2035, the government is working on the development of the Arctic in four main areas: its economy, improving the quality of life of its people, international cooperation and legal regulation. Over four years, 12 federal laws and more than 70 government acts have been adopted in the interests of Arctic development.

The Arctic Development Strategy sets goals for economic development, focusing primarily on new enterprises, investments and new jobs, the minister stated. “The support mechanisms created by the state made it possible to attract investors to 795 projects with an investment volume of 1.8 trillion rubles. In fact, 425 billion rubles have already been allocated. 42,000 new jobs are being created. The main investments are directed to the mining industry, oil and gas chemistry, logistics, and transport. In the Arctic, powerful enterprises have been built and now operate, forming the basis of Russia’s well-being, and a new economy is being created for the next generations,” the minister emphasized.

Chekunkov called the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which not only “stitches together” the West and the East of Russia, but also represents the most important geopolitical project, a cross-cutting goal on which the development of the entire Arctic depends. “For Russia, the NSR is the only route for supplying the northern regions, as well as the route along which the largest enterprises are located such as Norilsk Nickel, Gazprom, NOVATEK, Rosneft and others, which are already actively using the NSR and are implementing new projects that will ensure a multiple increase in cargo transportation in the next 10 years.”

The largest investors have entered into tripartite agreements with the Ministry for the Development of the Far East and Atomflot, which set annual goals for cargo transportation, the minister informed. “Cargo transportation should exceed 200 million tons per year by early 30s. The total cost of goods planned for transportation during this period is more than 100 trillion rubles. A plan for the development of the Northern Sea Route has been approved, which contains a detailed list of measures to achieve carrying capacity for these goods, including the development of a cargo base, transport infrastructure, the creation of the cargo and icebreaker fleet, and ensuring the safety of navigation. It is planned to build 10 nuclear icebreakers, more than 100 ice-class cargo ships, 14 ports and terminals, four rescue centers, and launch 12 satellites into orbit. Total investments will amount to 1.8 trillion rubles. And the implementation of the plan will bring more than 20 trillion in new tax revenues to the Russian economy,” said the head of the Ministry. He believes that the development of the NSR should become one of the most profitable infrastructure projects in Russia's history.

In 2023, the next important decisions were made for the development of the region, Chekunkov said. One of them is the law on northern delivery, the Arctic mortgage plan, and the list of supporting agglomerations. “In our work on the development of Arctic agglomerations, we will use the positive experience of the Norilsk development plan. Both an integrated approach and the principle of meaningful business participation are relevant here, where the city and its key enterprise are linked by a long-term developmental program.”

Alexey Chekunkov believes that innovative solutions and developments should play a big role. “We set a goal to ensure Russia’s leadership in Arctic science and technologies for the development of the North. World-class scientific and educational centers have been created in Arkhangelsk and Yakutsk. In 2022, the unique self-propelled ice platform “North Pole”, which has no counterparts in the world, entered service. Scientific research in the Arctic today is carried out by more than 300 scientific organizations and universities,” Chekunkov said. This work will continue at leading research centers and large companies operating in the Arctic.