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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Deputy Prime Minister – Plenipotentiary of the President in the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev held a meeting on the development of the infrastructure of the Northern Sea Route, including the organization of regular shipping container lines and coastal shipping.

Opening the meeting, Yuri Trutnev recalled that the Government pays great attention to the development of the Arctic zone of Russia. In the past few years, strategically important documents have been adopted such as the Presidential Decree “On the Foundations of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the Period up to 2035” and “The Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation”. A new state program for the development of the region has been developed and submitted to the Government. The laws governing Arctic business activities have undergone large-scale reforms, making the Russian Arctic the world’s largest economic zone.

Work on the development of the Northern Sea Route has intensified: over the past five years, the volume of traffic along it has increased 5.5 times, and last year it amounted to 33 million tons.

“We must remember why we are doing this. Our primary task is to create comfortable living and working conditions for people in the Arctic. Due to the harsh climatic conditions, low density of transport infrastructure, insufficient length of railways, paved roads, sea and river transportation often becomes an uncontested option for delivering goods to remote northern regions, carrying out northern delivery, and exporting resources extracted in the Arctic zone, ” Yuri Trutnev.

According to the Presidential Decree, it is necessary to bring the traffic volume to 80 million tons by 2024. According to the Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic, Alexei Chekunkov, the strategic task and opportunity for Russia is to transform the Northern Sea Route into an international competitive transport corridor, which will make it possible to realize advantages in the distance and timing of deliveries of both transit goods between Asia and Europe, and to intensify delivery cargo between regions of the Russian Federation, thus contributing to the development of cities, settlements and economic projects in the north of the country. “Container shipping is the cornerstone and main component of global maritime trade and logistics. In connection with the development of the Russian icebreaker fleet, the lengthening of the navigation period, the measures that the Government is taking to develop the Northern Sea Route, there is a possibility of organizing the transportation of competitive container cargo, including coastal shipping along this route, ”he said.

At the meeting, measures of state support for maritime transport between the constituent entities of the Federation that are directly related to the Northern Sea Route, as well as those located in the adjacent territories, were considered. The formation of a regular container route in a pilot mode and the organization of cabotage transportation were discussed. “It is important to implement a pilot regular route, organize cabotage transportation in order to show the whole world that it works. And thus, to change the attitude of market participants, including stevedoring and insurance companies, to this route – not as something complicated and unusual, but to make the Northern Sea Route a standard mainstream route, ”said Alexey Chekunkov.

The proposals to create a regular container route in a pilot mode were supported by the heads of the regions. “This will take into account the need of the Arctic and Far Eastern regions on the sea route from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok in the modernization of maritime and coastal infrastructure with the creation of western and eastern cargo control centers along the NSR,” explained the Governor of the Murmansk region Andrey Chibis.

It was noted that container transportation along the Northern Sea Route is inferior in economic efficiency to the transportation of goods through the Suez Canal, but they have sufficient profitability to be implemented on the principles of public-private partnership and become the basis for obtaining large-scale macroeconomic returns. “The Northern Sea Route is shorter, and transportation of goods along it should not be more expensive. If this requires some kind of a separate state program, separate support, then this should be done, ”said Yuri Trutnev.

The Deputy Prime Minister instructed the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom to analyze the cost of transportation along the Northern Sea Route and submit proposals to the Government that ensure a competitive cost.

Another issue of discussion was the transportation of fish products from the Far East to the central regions of the country. According to the president of the Ruscon group, Sergei Berezkin, a separate difficulty in transportation is the lack of refrigerated containers necessary for the transportation of fish products – a key range of cargo from the Far East. “We believe that it is advisable to develop cabotage traffic through the creation of a regular container line along the Northern Sea Route, which can be implemented with comprehensive government support and coordination of all participants in the process,” he said.

Vyacheslav Ruksha, deputy general director of Rosatom, director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate, reminded that the state corporation organized experimental flights of the nuclear-powered lighter carrier Sevmorput to transport containerized fish products along the Northern Sea Route. In 2019, 8.5 thousand tons were transported in 204 refrigerated containers and 66 containers with other cargo from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to St. Petersburg. In 2020 – more than 6.5 thousand tons in 206 refrigerated containers from the port of Vostochny and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to St. Petersburg. During these experimental voyages, problematic aspects were recorded that did not allow the shipowner to achieve the necessary economic efficiency of sea transportation. This, inter alia, the lack of constant loading from west to east for ships carrying fish from the Far Eastern Federal District to the central regions of Russia along the Northern Sea Route, as a result of which the ships are forced to move in ballast; lack of constant loading of fish products from east to west due to the constantly changing situation on the transportation market and insufficient responsibility of shippers for refusing to send fish products along the Northern Sea Route. Among other obstacles for the development of coastal shipping is the underdeveloped infrastructure of seaports in the immediate vicinity of the borders of the NSR for the simultaneous handling of large consignments of refrigerated containers.

The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, together with interested organizations, were instructed to present a forecast of the need for refrigerated containers. The State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom was instructed to submit proposals to the Government on establishing the responsibility of shippers for refusing to ship along the Northern Sea Route. The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East will consider the possibility of expanding the mechanism of “quotas in exchange for investments” to increase the volume of transportation of fish products from the Far East to the central regions of the country and stimulate the production of refrigerated containers.

Proposals for improving the mechanisms of northern delivery to the regions of the Far North and places equated to them were discussed. “Northern delivery is what the supply of remote regions of our country depends on. We need to look at the entire chain, all costs, all obstacles and make proposals so that this mechanism works in the interests of citizens, ”the Deputy Prime Minister said and instructed the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Eastern Development to submit proposals to the Government on the effective use of northern supplies.

Yuri Trutnev also instructed Rosatom to submit proposals to the Government on the possible establishment of a regular sailing schedule along the Northern Sea Route. “Such a schedule will allow shippers to understand the time frame for the formation of caravans, so that there is no need to ask, write applications, but it would be possible to declare for an already formed caravan,” he explained.

Summing up the results of the meeting, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that work on the development of the Northern Sea Route as an international competitive corridor will continue as planned. “The Northern Sea Route is becoming more and more in terms of the amount of transported goods and longer in terms of the navigation period. But to do everything in order for this project to take place and the route to become a truly competitive transport corridor, we need a lot, ”he stressed.

The meeting was attended by the Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Alexei Chekunkov, General Director of Rosatom State Corporation Alexei Likhachev, Deputy General Director of Rosatom State Corporation – Director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate Vyacheslav Ruksha, President of Ruscon Group Sergey Berezkin, Deputy Executive Director on the safety of navigation PJSC “Lenskoye United River Shipping Company” Maxim Barbashev, Governor of the Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba, Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Solodov, Governor of the Murmansk Region Andrey Chibis, Special Representative of Rosatom State Corporation for the Development of the Arctic, Deputy Chairman of the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic Vladimir Panov.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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