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NORTHERN SEA ROUTE ASSOCIATION

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Home NewsOn participation of the NSRA represented by Vladimir Kharlov in the meeting of the Council on the Arctic and Antarctic under the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation held on 24.11.2020.

The Northern Sea Route Association participated in a regular meeting of the Council on the Arctic and Antarctic under the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on November 24, 2020. The meeting was held online however this fact didn't affect its importance, especially keeping in mind that the meeting's subject "Actual environmental issues of the Russian Arctic Zone" is not just a priority but is the most important item of our Arctic strategy. 

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Photo: Vladimir Kharlov,Vice-President of the NSR Association.

Traditionally, the meeting of the Council has been participated by the relevant Ministries, representatives of the constituent territories of the Russian Arctic Zone, scientific-research institutions and business circles.

 

Alexander Kozlov, new Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, was a bit shy while accepting congratulations on the appointment from his colleagues. He was the Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic and now he has been appointed as the Minister of Ecology, so he has limited his speech only to the general aspects of his environmental programme for the Russian Arctic Zone. Alexander Kozlov did so because he understood that only his ex-colleague Alexander Krutikov, who has been appointed as the First Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, is ready to once again make a brilliant speech on the subject.

 

Alexander Krutikov didn't disappoint the expectations. Head of the Council Alexander Konstantinovich Akimov, who is usually strict in respect to the time allotted for speeches, never thought to limit the 30-minutes speech, which was actually a keynote, of Alexander Viktorovich Krutikov on the 2035 Russian Environmental Strategy in the Arctic. This is also to note that Alexander Krutikov participates in all events held by the NSRA.

 

Mr. Krutikov emphasized: "The five priorities will be the key elements of the Russian Arctic Strategy for many years". So let's follow-up the First Deputy Minister. This will include, among other things, an obligatory comprehensive environmental assessment of oil and gas projects that are becoming more and more intense and lead to a tremendous strain on the Arctic flora and fauna. In just 2 days after the meeting of our Council Igor Sechin, Head of Rosneft, has confirmed how right is Mr. Krutikov when we proudly reported to President Putin on a new Arctic project "Vostok Oil" at the Taymyr Peninsula. 

 

While proudly reporting on the key items of the development of the new oil and gas province, the Head of the PJSC Rosneft mentioned that 30 million tons of oil will be added to the NSR's cargo traffic and 400000 jobs will be created.  According to another speaker Vasiliy Bogoyavlenskiy, the Russian Federation is 60% dependent on oil and gas exports so it cannot be denied that the new province may become a significant crutch for the Federal Budget for 2021-2023, which is declining due to the pandemic and, by the way, has been recently adopted by the State Duma. But who calculated the environmental risks? How will Rosneft observe a recently-adopted Law on the Obligatory Comprehensive Assessment in the entire Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation dated August 28, 2020? It has never been easy to administer the legislation, so how will it work in respect of such untouchables as Rosneft and Gazprom?

 

According to Mr. Krutikov, "the green financing shall become the key to a successful modernization of production at a huge list of enterprises working in the Russian Arctic Zone".

 

He said: "As per my opinion, a financial instrument means not just an interest rate subsidies to the modernizations of enterprises but is also a fiscal tool that is applicable in respect of all production in the Arctic. For some reason, the fiscal component remains to be given a secondary role." 

 

The overall cleaning of all of the 7 constituent territories along the entire Northern Sea Route will require at least 500 million rubles in the first phase. The sum is obviously not that big and the Deputy Minister was a bit shy while announcing it in his speech because he understand that this set of activities will require much more financing. The same is true in respect of the support to the Arctic tourism, particularly - in respect of the creation of the Russian Arctic National Park. Only 1000 tourists visited the National Park last year while the Norwegian Spitsbergen, which has the same status, has been visited by 170000 tourists.

 

In this regard we proudly emphasized during the meeting of the Council that the NSRA's partner, a French cruise company PONANT, has made it to perform a cruise in an Eastern part of the Northern Sea Route (from Anadyr to Kazakov harbor in Kamchatka) in the end of September - beginning of October 2020 even in spite of the fact that the navigation from Spitsbergen to Anadyr was performed without any tourists onboard.

 

Global warming is probably the greatest challenge in the Arctic. Therefore we're pleased with the fact that a group of 36 leading Russian ecologists has been founded. Quite recently the group has completed an assessment of the expected direct damage to the Arctic: it will be 2 billion rubles in 2030 and 9 trillion rubles in 2050. The figures are dramatic and must be given the most serious consideration by all those who associate their development with the Arctic.

 

The NSRA is generally focused on infrastructure, energy, shipbuilding, an increase in commercial maritime navigation in the Northern Sea Route and on international cooperation.

 

At the same time the indigenous minorities of the North and the Far East will always be under the constant attention of the Association.

 

That is why the processes of replacing the tundra with a forest tundra, an increase in epidemiological risks, a decrease in the permafrost zone and defrosting of   200 disposals of the Siberian plague in Yakutia may become a source of a disaster in all regions of the Russian Arctic Zone. Depletion of food reserves used for reindeer breeding along with an unequal distribution of a grazing land may lead to a situation when the small indigenous people of the North and of the Far East will lose reindeer breeding as a basic sector.

 

And one more sphere, which is quite important for us and to which the NSRA will pay particular attention is the human livelihood in the Arctic whether it pertains to sailors, doctors, geologists, teachers, oilfield workers, health workers, reindeer breeders etc. The entire set of human activities may be exposed to life-threatening risks without the Federal Service of Russia on Hydrometeorology and Monitoring of the Environment. As for the number of weather observational stations and rescue centers in the Arctic we fell back into 1940s and the Eastern Arctic has simply turned into a "scientific wasteland" since only 4 observational stations are remaining there.

 

However the global warming has several benefits; the main benefit is an increase in the length of the navigation along the Northern Sea Route. The second largest benefit is, probably, related to new fishing areas in the Kara sea and the Chukchi Sea.

 However any industrial activities carried out in the Arctic cannot tolerate any industrial slovenliness. The accident in Norilsk in July 2020 can be quite literally called an Arctic Chernobyl Accident.  12 oil spillages have happened in the last three years. Let's note that the yearly average sea water temperature in the Arctic seas that are the part of the Northern Sea Route is 6 degrees per Celsius. This means that it will take many decades to naturally break down the oil and the Arctoc, therefore, requires human help.  That is why the joint exercises held by the Ministry of Defense, the EMERCOM and the Federal National Guard Troops Service shall contribute towards creation of a databank. This is to be done in order to ensure that the 2020 Norilsk accident will never happen again.

We would be glad to share our impression about the participation in the meeting of the Council on the Arctic and Antarctic during the visit of the NSRA and its partners to the Nenets Autonomous Area.  This includes things related to helicopters and to the construction of the Arc5 multitask vessels who will operate over the NSR.

The international cooperation in the Arctic implies interaction and help rendered by, first of all, the member States of the Arctic Council where Russia's voice is being heard to more than elsewhere. We are entering the presidency of the Arctic Council in 2021-2023 with quite an assured step. Russia built the world's best icebreaking fleet and the Sabetta Arctic seaport from scratch. Moreover, Russia successfully continues to develop energy projects in Yamal.

But our drilling technologies and other aspects of the oil and gas industry, civil shipbuilding and infrastructural development are dramatically lagging behind.  It is never a shame to learn from the Arctic neighbours, especially because the our own lessons learned from, for example, the Kumzhinskoe gas condensate field compel us to always remember that the Arctic is our common home. 

Forthcoming events

Ministry of natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation Federal service for Hydrometeorology and monitoring environment SSC RF "Arctic and Antarctic research center Institute».

Long-term ice forecasts for the Arctic seas for the second half of navigation (August-October) 2020.

16-th of April, 2020 NSR association conference information and NSR council meeting under Arthur Chilingarov chairmanship on March, 14 in Naryan -Mar city, Nenets district.

Welcome to Russian and foreign NSR association partners and friends to join to the previous and updated events

Welcome to Russian and foreign NSR association partners and friends to join to the previous and updated events where we are involved in November -December, 2019.

A Conference of the Northern Sea Route Association will be held in March 2020.

We invite you to attend the Conference "Northern Sea Route - a path to development of business and an international consensus" that will be held by the Northern Sea Route Association in Moscow in March 2020.

Congratulations

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