• 2016 September 28

    By northern routes

    The issues of Northern Sea Route development were discussed by the experts at the IX International Forum "Transport and Transit Potential" in Saint-Petersburg. On the agenda was the improvement of logistics, ensuring of safe navigation, encouraging of investments into the anchor zone on the Kola peninsula (Murmansk Region), etc.

    Defence logistics

    It should be noted that a consortium including Oboronlogistika, Sovfracht and FESCO was established in June 2016 for the formation of a unified transport and logistic system in the Arctic.

    Anatoly Gannota, Deputy Director General of Oboronlogistika LLC, named a number of factors hindering the development of the Northern Sea Route logistics. 

    “Defence Ministry engages the services of the commercial fleet – about 80 vessels of different classes. However, their transportation capacity is not used efficiently as there is no centralized management of resources, hence an unreasonable number of empty runs (some estimates say they make up to 40% of the transportation capacity). Besides, the fees for transportation and related services are often unpredictable amid the absence of a unified tariff policy. All this puts the brakes on the development of the NSR logistics,” he said. 

    According to him, there are two tasks being handled simultaneously today. 

    “First of all, we are integrating the resources and raising the level of management centralization (NSR transportation management – Ed.). Secondly, we are developing and are going to adopt, this year or in the beginning of the next year, a unified tariff policy within the framework of the Consortium,” explained Gannota.

    He also said the unified tariff guide will include hourly freight rates allowing for involving of RF Navy’s auxiliary ships for transportations in the interest of commercial customers.

    “So, from 2017 RF Defence Ministry will solve its transportation and logistics tasks in the Arctic and at the Kurils via a single operator and will try to attract the interested civil shippers at transparent conditions for mutual benefits and budget savings”, summarized Anatoly Gannota.

    Logistic center in Arkhangelsk

    Meanwhile, there is a plan to establish a North-Western Center for seaborne cargo transportation to supply RF Defence Ministry in the Arctic zone. It is to be located in Arkhangelsk as the profile of its transport hub has traditionally been associated with transportation in the Arctic Basin.

    “Cargoes bound for Defence Ministry’s facilities on the Arctic islands, polar stations, national parks, oil & gas and geological facilities are delivered via Arkhangelsk transportation hub. This traffic and the demand for such cargoes has been growing in the recent years. Arkhangelsk companies succeed in implementation of this function – servicing of coastwise traffic. There are favorable conditions for expansion of these activities. We are ready to accept more cargoes,” said Oleg Mishukov, Head of the regional Transport Ministry’s Department for Traffic and Road Management.

    According to him, 82,000 t of cargo for military construction in the Arctic has already been delivered in 2016.

    “Arkhangelsk transportation hub has everything necessary for establishment of a center to manage shipping in the Arctic,” believes Oleg Mishukov. 

    He reminds that in the middle of June an agreement was signed on cooperation between Arkhangelsk Region Government and Oboronlogistika LLC.

    “This cooperation will be implemented with involvement of the fleet and port/warehouse infrastructure of Arkhangelsk Region enterprises in the interests of the state in the Arctic zone. The experience acquired in cooperation with Oboronlogistika during implementation of transport and logistic projects will be used in sub-Arctic entities of the Russian Federation,” emphasized the official.

    It should be noted that Arkhangelsk transportation hub numbers five key stevedoring companies with their own sea terminals and cargo districts, more than 10 shipping companies and dozens of related services providers. Among the key stevedores of the region are Arkhangelsk Sea Commercial Port OJSC, Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet OJSC, Arctic Consulting Service CJSC, MRTS-Terminal LLC, Arkhangelsk River Port JSC. 

    Looking for an anchor

    Comprehensive development of Russia’s Arctic area implies the establishment of anchor zones. This approach is set out in the draft law “On Development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation”. Anchor zones are to be formed as comprehensive projects involving the activities targeted at social and economic development of the Arctic area. They will be interconnected at all phases. Murmansk Region is assigned to host the pilot project on establishment of the Kola anchor zone. 

    Aleksei Tyukavin, First Deputy Governor of the Murmansk Region, has drafted some proposals on encouraging investment activities in the Kola anchor zone (Murmansk Region).

    “To develop the infrastructure of the NSR ports and to raise its transit potential a porto franco regime applied in the Far East could be expanded to the basic seaports along the Northern Sea Route like Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky,” he explained. 

    Other possible measures according to Aleksei Tyukavin: expansion of Priority Development Areas regime to Arctic anchor zones from 2017; amending of the energy pricing to encourage more power consumption in the regions with energy proficit.

    He also thinks it is necessary to set special environmental requirements and restrictions for exports of oil produced in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation with tougher ecological and technological standards for off-harbour transshipment. 

    Besides, Aleksei Tyukavin suggested undertaking of customs and tax regulation measures to encourage processing of raw materials in Russia and exporting of higher value-added goods. He also believes it is possible to provide Russian-flagged ships with a priority on cargo transportation in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. 

    Gosmorrechnadzor helps those who help themselves

    Meanwhile, special attention is paid at the state level to safe navigation along the Northern Sea Route especially amid intensification of NSR transit traffic from Europe to Asia. These issues are on the agenda of the Marine Board, the Ministry of Transport and the Government, says Valery Poddubny, deputy head of the State Marine and River Supervisory Authority (Gosmorrechnadzor) of the Federal Agency for Transport Supervision (Rostransnadzor). 

    By the middle of September 2016, FSI Northern Sea Route Administration submitted to Gosmorrechnadzor 16 notifications on violation of the NSR navigation rules, he said.

    “Special assignments on investigation of violations were given to our regional bodies in respect of each notification”, explained Valery Poddubny.

    Among the key violations at the Northern Sea Route he mentioned the entry into the water area without a permission of NSR Administration, non-observance of navigation area or season specified in classification certificates, non-compliance with ice navigation conditions, violation of routes specified in the permissions.

    Valery Poddubny reminded that the year of 2015 saw twice as much violations as compared with the number of notifications registered in 2014. “In 2015, 33 officials representing 26 shipping companies were fined. They were captains of vessels, those responsible for safe navigation and prevention of environment pollution, as well as heads of companies”, he said.

    The expert believes that higher fines for violation of NSR navigation rules could contribute to enhancement of navigation safety. As of today, the fines are insignificant.

    Valery Poddubny calls on ship owners using the Northern Sea Route intensify measures on prevention of violations of NSR navigation. 

    As of mid-September 2016, cargo traffic at the Northern Sea Route (NSR) has totaled 4.36 mln t including 208,500 t of transit cargo, says Svyatoslav Stepchenkov, Head of Shipping Department, NSR Administration. In 2015, NSR cargo traffic totaled 5.432 mln t including 40,000 t of transit cargo.

    By September 16, the Northern Sea Route Administration issued 636 permissions for navigation through the Northern Sea Route including 131 permissions for foreign-flagged vessels. Total number of permissions issued in 2015 - 715.  The official says there were three notices of rejection with only one final rejection. According to the expert, the Northern Sea Route will further growth of cargo traffic.

    Margarita Babkova