The Ministry of Transport has prepared a forecast for the development of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in the Arctic, which assumes an almost double increase in cargo traffic, up to 80 million tons, in just one year - the 2024th. This follows from the NSR passport, presented in the materials of the State commission for the Arctic under the leadership of the Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev on July 25. The Russian media group RBC has a copy of the document; two federal officials confirmed its authenticity. The representative of the Ministry of Transport did not comment on this forecast.
How the Ministry of Transport suggests filling the Northern Sea Route with cargo
According to the forecast of the Ministry of Transport, the cargo turnover of the Northern Sea Route, which amounted to 17 million tons at the end of 2018, will grow at a slow pace over the next four years (up to 26 million tons in 2019 and up to 32 million tons in 2022), in 2023 year - by 13 million tons, up to 45 million tons, and in 2024 a sharp jump is expected - almost twice - up to 80 million tons.
The increasing transport of goods along the route to 80 million tons by 2024 is provided by the May decree of President Vladimir Putin, but earlier officials predicted a smoother growth. Therefore, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation argued that by the end of 2019, 30 million tons will be delivered through the NSR, 37 million tons in 2021, 58 million tons in 2023, and 82 million tons in 2024. The Ministry of the Development of the Far East and the Arctic also expects gradual growth in 2019–2022 to 46 million tons, and then its acceleration to 66 million tons in 2023 and to 95 million tons in 2024.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the loading of the Northern Sea Route will be mainly provided by LNG plants in Yamal and Gydan of NOVATEK (up to 47 million tons per year by 2024), condensate production by Gazprom and NOVATEK, oil production by Gazprom Neft at the Novoportovsky field (7 million tons) and Neftegazholding at the Payakhskoye fields (5 million tons), coal mining by VostokUgol owned by Dmitry Bosov (19 million tons per year) and “Severnaya Zvezda” of Roman Trotsenko (4 million tons per year). The Ministry takes into account in its forecasts the supply of cargo, as well as the prospect of loading the Northern Latitudinal Railway up to 8 million tons per year. The forecast of the Ministry of Transport does not specify the plans of shipping companies.
The director of the company “Gekon” Mikhail Grigoryev, who advises the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, called the forecast of the Ministry of Transport unsubstantiated by the real projects of the companies that will use this route. The expert considers the sharp increase in cargo turnover by 35 million tons in one 2024 to be unjustified: “This is an adjustment to the volumes of the May decree. The forecast is not confirmed with a real analysis of the cargo base of the project. ” “The increase in transportation volumes along the Northern Sea Route is due to the systematic launch of projects related to the production of liquefied natural gas, oil and coal production. The plans of the companies do not provide for a double increase in cargo turnover in the NSR for 2024,” Grigoryev explained to the RBC.
Will it be possible to load a route in the Arctic?
The Ministry of Transport estimates the total cost of implementing the Northern Sea Route project at 734.9 billion rubles, of which 273.6 billion rubles will be allocated from the budget. 152 billion rubles will go to the Northern Latitudinal Railway routed from the Gulf of Ob to Korotchaevo, and 112.25 billion rubles were provided (81.9 billion rubles from the budget, 30.35 billion rubles from private investors) for the construction of the LNG terminal “Utrenniy” in Sabetta for the second plant “Arctic LNG-2” of Novatek with a capacity of 19.8 million tons (the first plant Yamal LNG was completed in December 2018).
According to the Ministry’s materials there are also the construction of the Sever Bay in Taimyr for shipping oil from the fields of the Payakh group of Neftegazholding for 33 billion rubles at the expense of the company and the construction of the port of Dikson for VostokUgol for 18 billion rubles with private money. Also, reconstruction of 15 airports in the Arctic zone from Murmansk to Solovki is planned for a total value of 36.9 billion rubles, follows from a letter dated May 8 from the First Deputy Minister of Transport Innokenty Alafinov to the Ministry of East Development (RBC has a copy).
In March, a representative of NOVATEK informed the media group RBC by 2024 the company's freight turnover on the NSR will be 46.7 million tons. “The company will implement its projects by previously announced plans, including in terms of ensuring NSR cargo turnover,” he told to the media group RBC in Monday, July 29th.
However, the curators of the development of the Northern Sea Route, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom”, warned of the risk of underloading the route. Their main concerns were about the mining of Taimyr coal “VostokUgol” by Dmitry Bosov and the development of the Payakhskoye field of the Neftegazholding owned by Eduard Khudainatov.
The project for the production of 19 million tons of coal by 2024 in Taimyr, proposed by VostokUgol, could move a year later, that the Deputy General Director Vyacheslav Ruksha said the media group RBC. Besides, neither VostokUgol nor Severnaya Zvezda has an ice-class fleet for coal export in winter, he added. The top manager also doubts the large volume of oil cargo in the Arctic without tax benefits.
The source of RBC in one of the major oil companies, which intends to work in the Arctic and carry goods along the Northern Sea Route, also warns that the plan to increase cargo turnover to 80 million tons per year will not be possible if there is no state support for oil production projects in the Arctic zone.