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Effective development of the Arctic territories
Material posted: Publication date: 29-01-2013

Currently, the Arctic is regarded by many States as a strategic region due to the enormous hydrocarbon reserves and the strengthening of the role of factors underlying political and energy security of the leading industrialized countries of the world.

Industrial development in the Arctic involves intensive exploitation of hydrocarbon resources, extraction of biological resources, significant TRANS-shipment of goods and, as a consequence, the development of transport and transport infrastructure. The technological complexity of the organization of transport operations in the Arctic, as well as the legal peculiarities of the legislation of Arctic States define the need for international cooperation in the transport sector, in an efficient and safe development of the Arctic territories.


1. Transport interests in the Arctic zone of Russia and the current state of infrastructure in the Arctic

Future large-scale development of the Arctic region will require solutions to many new challenges, some of which will entail the development of not only brand new and highly efficient technologies, but better ways of organizing the logistics of remote objects, movement of vehicles, minimize impact on the fragile ecosystem in General.

Currently Russia has a unique transportation and logistics capabilities, which due to its natural preconditions can contribute significantly to its transformation into a competitive transit state with a developed services sector and a service economy.

So, one of the promising directions can be a full realization of transport and transit potential due to the formation of the system of international transport corridors passing through the territory and waters under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, as well as capillary transport infrastructure linking remote Arctic communities.

Poor or sometimes totally absent transport and logistics infrastructure leads to a mismatch between the importance of the development of natural-resource potential of the Russian Arctic zone and the Arctic shelf with the requirements of national security, reduces the competitiveness of Russia, which has unique geographical advantages. The development of an integrated transport system and infrastructure will allow not only to overcome the barriers to use of transit potential and improve transport accessibility of settlements, but also to eliminate infrastructural constraints on the growth of mining in the Arctic zone of Russia (AZR).

It is obvious that without a distant train approaches the development of Arctic ports has low prospectivity. That is why the project "Belkomur" is the most promising and has favorable conditions for implementation. It provides for the construction of the missing sections (Karpogory.–Vending) railway on the route Arkhangelsk–Perm for communication of the Arkhangelsk sea port with Syktyvkar, Kudymkar and Perm (Solikamsk). This will ensure that the output of these regions to foreign markets. In this regard, particularly actualizes the implementation of projects such as the construction of technological lines Sosnogorsk–Indiga ("Parentcolor"), Vorkuta–Ust-Kara, and the corridor "North–South", intended for transport between the Persian Gulf States, India, Pakistan across the Caspian sea with Eastern and Central Europe and Scandinavia.

Moreover, the construction of the railroad Polunochnoye–Obskaya, completion of the line Obskaya–Bovanenkovo with the port Harasavey, the establishment of railway communication in the Nadym–Salekhard and further to Labytnangi and line Korotchaevo–Igarka from the perspective of Dudinka and Norilsk will link the ore resources of the polar Urals, the area of oil and gas production on the Yamal Peninsula to the developed industrial areas of the Urals [1].

New Railways of the North-South direction leading to the ports of the White, Barents, Kara and Laptev seas, will increase the cargo potential of the Northern sea route (NSR) and open up direct access to Western Europe. More complex effects can be the construction of the railway line Salekhard–Nadym–Novy Urengoy with access to Igarka and Norilsk, because there is a risk of outflow of goods from the most developed to the NSR Dudinskaya direction. Here there is competition between rail and sea transport fares, speed, logistics and reliability of delivery.

In addition, increasing the feasibility of establishing high-speed routes for the cross-polar communications, including aviation (such projects provide a link between the Eastern and Western hemispheres of the Earth on the shortest routes), as well as the construction of the transcontinental polimahistrali with a tunnel across the Bering Strait. The latter are associated with the efficient use of the high-latitude Northern transport corridor – the Russian national TRANS-Arctic sea polimerstroy, organically includes the NSR from gravitating to it meridional river and railway communications. Its extreme control points (Murmansk and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky) must ensure that cargo handling on ships with ice class, ice-breaking fleet service, support transit feeder routes [1].

Despite all the technical difficulties of navigation in the Arctic geographically, the SMP represents the shortest route connecting Europe with the Far East and Western part of North America. Loads of potential for this highway is not only a transit. This, for example, and Russian exports that are now coming to Southeast Asia southern sea route via Suez. In all the national decisions in recent years related to socio-economic development of the CBA, emphasises the key role of SMEs in the development of the spaces and resources of the Russian Arctic.

Currently a need for modernization and construction of new sea ports, shipping terminals, construction of icebreakers and transport vessels, creation of technological fleet for exploration and maintenance of the facilities offshore.

Major transport and logistics hub for trunk and international traffic can be a sea port of Murmansk.

Start of development of the Arctic shelf and increasing the volumes of transportation of oil will inevitably lead to the fact that Murmansk will become the industrial base future projects on extraction of oil and gas resources of the Arctic [2].

Reconstruction of the terminals of the port of Murmansk, the construction of a Harbor of the oilloading systems create good preconditions for the development of the Murmansk transport hub in the traditional direction, but also to gradually transform it into a major port of Russia and Northern Europe for transportation of oil, including that produced from offshore fields in the Arctic.

On transport capacity and future development projects of transport in the Murmansk region can be judged on the basis of the data provided in table 1 [2].

Table 1.Transport capacity and perspective projects on development of transport in the Murmansk region

№ p/p Project title Planned activities
1 The development of Maritime transport
  • reconstruction of the coal terminal of Murmansk commercial seaport 9.6 million tons;
  • the construction of a coal terminal by 20 million tonnes on the Western shore of Kola Bay;
  • the construction of container terminal 1 million TEU on the East shore of Kola Bay;
  • the construction of an oil terminal at 35 million tons on the Western shore of Kola Bay;
  • the development of the water area for vessels DW = 350 kt;
  • the development of port fleet;
  • the construction of ecological bunkering complex
2 The development of logistics and warehousing infrastructure
  • the construction of the distributive-logistic complex;
  • construction of a logistics center
3 The development of railway transport
  • the construction of a new railway branch line Output–Lavna length of 28 km;
  • the construction of new railway stations and parks (10 PCs.);
  • reconstruction of track development of stations 4;
  • reconstruction approaches (the Volkhov article)
4 The development of road transport
  • the development of the road network in Murmansk;
  • reconstruction of the highway "Kola"
5 The development of air transport
  • reconstruction of airport "Murmansk"

With the objective of modernising the NSR are closely mates the task of creating an effective system of the aviation service of the Northern districts on the basis of the modernization of the airport network and development of small aircraft. The main objective of air transport in the Arctic in the coming years should be full satisfaction of solvent demand of the population to air transportation and the accessibility of this mode of transport.

A very important task in the development of the Arctic is the formation of safe and efficient air transport-logistic models of delivery personnel to remote objects.

As for the development of air traffic control the scope of cross-polar flights, providing substantial cost savings in air cargo transportation between the countries of the Eurasian continent and America, may be considerably expanded with the inclusion of passenger transport. Today Russia has all the chances to turn the NSR into a commercially viable alternative to the Malacca Strait and the Suez canal. Apart from technical difficulties, to solve this problem it is necessary to resolve some legal issues.


2. The legal framework of Maritime activities in the Arctic

The legal status of Maritime areas in the Arctic in General determined by the principles and norms of General international law that relate to the oceans in General, and enshrined in the universally accepted Geneva conventions on the law of the sea 1958, particularly in the UN Convention on the law of the sea 1982

In the Arctic zone many legal disagreements on territorial issues. A vivid example is a legal dispute about the status of the Northwest passage (NWP) is a network of short sea routes through the Canadian Arctic archipelago, numbering about 19 thousand Islands, many rocks and reefs [3].

According to experts, the dispute about the legal status of the NWP does not question his belonging Canada: this sea route around unquestionably the canadian thousand Islands. The essence of the problem in other – United States for a long time believe that the passage meets the legal criteria of an international Strait because it connects two parts of the high seas (Arctic and Atlantic oceans) and is used for international navigation. With this perspective, a waterway is considered to be canadian territory, but foreign vessels have the right of transit passage through it.

Canada insists that the passage is internal waters and has the same legal status as inland waters (e.g., the Ottawa river or lake Winnipeg). Accordingly, foreign vessels must request permission to enter these waters and all along the way to be in the jurisdiction of Canada. However, over the last century Canada several times changed its legal position that gave rise to accuse the canadian government of inconsistency, and weakened the arguments of the country in the dispute, [3].

Expanding international cooperation in the field of development of transport communications in the far North is able to solve many legal issues relating to activities in the Arctic zone.

For Russia, an important component of the legal status of the Arctic legal regime is the national transport communications – Northern sea route, which has a significant feature, due to climatic and hydrological factors: there is no single and fixed route. It is noteworthy that the legal position of Russia in respect of SMP is identical to the one taken by Canada in relation to FFP. The United States opposes the claims and statements of Russia that the key part of the SMP are its territorial waters.

In 1985, the Soviet Union expressed support for the legal position of Canada, when the US sent an icebreaker through the NWP. The recognition by Canada of the claims of the USSR on SMP would significantly strengthen the legal position of both countries, but during the cold war, Canada could not support the Soviet Union in a dispute with the United States.

Obviously, expanding international cooperation in the field of development of transport communications in the far North is able to solve many legal issues relating to activities in the Arctic zone.


3. International cooperation in the field of transport in the Arctic zone

Example of a major international project aimed at the development of transport communications in the Arctic, is a project of the European Union "Northern dimension", covering the countries of Northern Europe, the Baltic States and Russia. The project focused on concrete cooperation for addressing common challenges and opportunities. This interaction is useful not only for the region but for Europe as a whole.

The main objective of the Northern dimension in the transport sector – an increase of Maritime transport between European ports and ports of Northern Russia, particularly Murmansk and Arkhangelsk. They should become a worthy alternative to the ports of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic sea.

An interesting example of international cooperation in the field of logistics and transport is the project "logistics Development in the Barents transport corridor", devoted to the development of regional transport and logistics in the Murmansk region. The project included development of a transport route from port of Kemi via Salla to Murmansk, since the development of the Barents transport corridor is one of the most important areas for improvement of logistics in the Barents region. This project was implemented in 2006-2008 and funded by the European Union in the framework of neighbourhood programme "Kolarctic".

In the framework of the project "logistics in the Barents region" was implemented a pilot container transportation on the new route. In this case via satellite connection was monitored parameters time cost, speed, etc.

Continuation of this work was the project "Barents logistics 2", aimed at raising the professional competence in the field of logistics, development of logistics know-how and the expansion of supply chains in the Barents region. The project started in 2011 and funded by the program "Kolarctic ENPI-SS" of the European Union. The project partners are enterprises and organizations of Russia, Finland and Sweden.

Another effective example of international cooperation in the field of transport – a joint Russian-Norwegian oil and gas "project Ru-No Barents", in which a special direction "logistics and transport". The overall objective of this project is to assess the "gap" between the existing today level of technology and technology (including logistics and transportation), necessary for the production of oil and gas in the Barents, Pechora and Kara seas the most environmentally friendly and reliable way. The participants of the project "logistics and transport" have the opportunity to engage in the activities of international working groups that conduct evaluation of the transport and logistics challenges faced by both Norway and Russia in the development of the far North.

When a competent strategy of participation in international projects Arctic Russia, positioning itself as a Eurasian Maritime transport the state will be able to get a large source of income.

Remains a promising project "Northern air bridge" providing for the organization of air routes from Asia to North America via the Arctic. The key link between the continents have become Krasnoyarsk Krai. According to experts, such routes will need, primarily, to the countries of South-East Asia, which fly to North America easier through the Arctic. In this case, the flight time is reduced to 2-5 hours depending on the route.

According to experts, to the Arctic (air) routes were efficient for the business, we need to download the aircraft different kinds of goods at 85% there and back. Thus 60% of cargo shall have as a destination or departure airport of the city (and surrounding areas), which is included in the route network and wishes to become commercially attractive "hub".

However, the existing traffic flows is insufficient to guarantee achievement of the specified volume. The situation may change due to Russia's accession to the WTO. The most promising cargo experts believe oil and gas and mining equipment, heavy engineering, pharmaceuticals, food and electronics.

It is obvious that the role of transport communications and infrastructure in future large-scale energy projects it is difficult to overestimate. The transport and logistics sector in the Arctic is evolving as a service sector in the framework of the implementation of major, primarily international energy projects. So, a practical example of international cooperation in the Arctic and in the organization of the unprecedented complexity of transport and logistics services can become a project of the Shtokman gas condensate field developed by Gazprom jointly with foreign partners. In the framework of implementation of the project, a huge logistics complex, the tasks of which are organization of delivery personnel in the areas of execution of works, material handling, transportation and storage of heavy equipment. The project area is located at a considerable distance from the shore, the work will be carried out in harsh weather conditions with a compressed schedule.

* * *

Maritime transport services may become the largest raw material after oil and gas export of the ASR. When a competent strategy of participation in international projects Arctic Russia, positioning itself as a Eurasian Maritime transport the state will be able to get a large source of income. Moreover, it will be largely immune from the risks associated with the prospect of a downturn in the prices on global hydrocarbon markets. It is important to remember that the full realization of transport and transit potential has strong multiplier effects and complexformation.

The core of the Arctic transport system needs to become Northern sea route with the adjacent railway and river routes, aviation, roads, and coastal infrastructure. However, for normal operation should address a number of issues. Need a uniform control system, control of ice pilotage, perfection of the legislation on the state regulation and trading navigation on the seaways of the NSR. Need a modern infrastructure that provides safe navigation conditions in the Arctic seas, and hydrographic support and icebreaking escort.

It is obvious that this matter requires government support, effective international cooperation and the full consolidation of political and economic resources.



1. Konovalov A. M. Transport infrastructure of the Russian Arctic: problems and ways of their solution // the Arctic: zone of peace and cooperation / Ed. edited by A. V. zagorskii. M.: IMEMO ran, 2011.

2. Fadeev, A. M. Improvement of economic approaches to managing the development of offshore hydrocarbon fields in the Arctic. Apatity: Izd. Kola science centre RAS, 2012.

3. Byers M. the Legal status of the Northwest passage and Arctic sovereignty Canada: past, present and desired future // Bulletin of Moscow University. Series 25. International relations and world politics. 2011. No. 2.


Alexey Fadeev


Tags: assessment , Arctic

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