Recently, they began to talk about the slowdown of the Northern Sea Route. The reason for this was partly given by various responsible persons who willingly talk in the media about great plans that are not being implemented as quickly as they would like. Because of this discrepancy, the impression is made that the NSR has come to a halt. In my opinion, it's wrong.
Let's be straight, regular reading of news about the development of the Arctic does not give the impression that something comes to a halt. On the contrary, the pace of development is good, especially against the background of the fact that this region is remote and difficult to access. Ten years ago, it was generally hard to imagine that something like this would take place in the Arctic.
Everything is fine, according to plan and time limits – this is only for office managers who are very unloved by me, armed with beautifully designed presentations and reports. In fact, in any big business related to material objects, especially those being built in the icy kingdom on the outskirts of the inhabited world, there can and often are all sorts of delays, temporary setbacks, breakdowns that are overcome over time.
For example, now Western countries are trying to torpedo the Arctic LNG-2 project, forcing equipment suppliers and contractors to withdraw from the project. However, as of March 2021, the project was 39% ready, now, apparently, the readiness is approaching or has already exceeded 50%; the first line is almost completed. At the end of 2021, 57% of capital investments were financed. The project costs $21.3 billion, that is, about $12 billion has been invested. It is no longer possible to abandon the project, otherwise all these billions will be lost forever.
Of course, implacable Western partners will try to create problems for us by blocking technology and the supply of equipment. We'll have to hustle. But these problems are actually solvable. When Russia masters the production of equipment for the production of LNG, this will be boost entire economy, and the Arctic as a whole. Any point on the Arctic coast can be supplied with energy by building an LNG receiving terminal, regasification and a power plant. This means that it will be possible to develop mining, it will be possible to build cities. Before, we didn't have that kind of opportunity.
As for the ports and the fleet, it should be noted that ports take a long time to build. For example, the construction of the port of Sabetta began in 2012, and the first LNG tanker left the port in January 2018. It took six years to construct it. The construction of the port of Ust-Luga began in 1993, and its first terminal was opened in 2001. So the construction lasted eight years. After the opening of the coal terminal, the port was built and is still under construction, for more than twenty years.
Thus, the port of Indiga, which they are going to start building in 2024, will be launched sometime in 2030 and they will keep building it in the future, since the port is going to be large, with 80 million tons per year, not far below Ust-Luga. More ports are needed on the Northern Sea Route, including reloading ports, in which cargo will be transshipped from Arctic ships to ships without ice class. Places have not yet been chosen for them. These ports will be built in the 2020s, and in the 2030s, and later. Moreover, it is necessary to create a navigation system, satellite monitoring, and emergency services on the Northern Sea Route. All this is being done now and it takes time.
Ships are also built slowly. The Sibir icebreaker was laid down in May 2015 and delivered to the customer in December 2021.
The Christophe de Margerie arctic gas carrier was laid down in March 2015, put into operation in March 2017, and in the same year made its first voyage along the Northern Sea Route. It can be said that South Korean shipyards are operating faster. To some extent, this is true. However, it must be emphasized that not a single foreign shipyard can build an Arctic icebreaker with a nuclear power plant, while in Russia they are building them. However, Russian shipyards also began to build arctic gas carriers. In June 2021, the keel of the first Russian gas carrier, the lead ship of a series of 15 tankers, was laid at Zvezda JCC. In a few years, we will have our own fleet of Arctic tankers.
At the same time, despite the fact that now there are not enough icebreakers, ice-class ships, ports and other things, the Northern Sea Route can already serve voyages eastward, to Asia, almost all year round. Now this is a reality, not projects on paper.
Therefore, there is no need to be in the blues. The Northern Sea Route and its infrastructure will take a long time to build, at least until the 2050s. This is fine. We have already tried the advantages of our own transit sea route, which is under the sole control of Russia, and therefore we will not leave the road. So here is the conclusion: keep building. Every year the Northern Sea Route will be more powerful, it will give more and more for the economic development of the Arctic and Russia as a whole.