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  • 2020 July 23

    Sergey Buyanov: “There are no problems with the design of ice-class container ships in Russia”

    In the run-up to the XV TRANSTEC International Transport Corridors Forum scheduled for 14-16 September 2020, Sergey Buyanov, General Director of Central Marine Research and Design Institute (CNIIMF), shares his expert opinion on the projects for the NSR cargo transit and development of the Northern Transport Corridor.

    -  Nowadays raw commodities mainly, LNG are the basis for transportation along the Northern Sea Route (NSR). What kind of cargo, in your opinion, could be transported in transit?

    - If we talk about international transit, the basis of transportation should be containerized cargo in terms of international transit. This is a part of the Asia-Europe cargo flow, which currently goes through the Southern Sea Route. The volume of container traffic from Asia to Europe is now about 15 million TEU, in the opposite direction - about 7 million TEU.

    - Rusatom Cargo announced the implementation of the container ports-hubs construction project in the Murmansk region and in the Far East, as well as the construction Arc7 ice-class container ships. What is your assessment of these plans, to what extent are they reasonable and feasible?

    - However, much depends on the availability of a cargo base. At the moment, there is nothing unfeasible. As the experience of the Yamal LNG project and the port of Sabetta has shown, everything can be materialized with a rational approach. According to Rusatom Cargo's plans, the SMTK project is being implemented in two stages - "pilot" and "full-scale". I believe this is the proper approach. As things stand, there are no unsolvable tasks for the implementation of the "pilot" stage.

    -  What, in your opinion, are the main issues need solving for the successful development of transit traffic along the NSR?

    - For the successful development of transit traffic along the NSR and, first of all, for bringing in foreign cargo traffic, it is necessary to further develop the nuclear icebreaker fleet (construct a series of leader-type icebreakers), improve navigation and hydrographic support (survey and determine deep-water shipping routes), develop a satellite constellation to update ice conditions information throughout the entire NSR.

    - Is Russia able to independently design and build container ships for transportation along the NSR at competitive prices?

    - There are no problems with the design of ice-class container ships in Russia. The construction of ships at competitive prices is still possible either with state subsidies or in cooperation with foreign shipyards.

    - Representatives of foreign companies (DP World and COSCO) during the recent sitting of the NSR public council declared the need to promote higher standards of safety of navigation along the NSR and to expand the seasonal "window" for transportation. How can these aims be achieved?

    - As I said, this can be achieved by the improvement of navigation and hydrographic support, communication systems and the development of the reporting of ice conditions data system. These systems are the basis for the navigation safety in the Arctic. The development of these systems will reduce possible emergencies risks and make the NSR more attractive for transit traffic.

    - At the same meeting, the executive board of Atomflot underlined the problem of insufficient analytics and forecasting during navigation on the NSR. What, in your opinion, could be done to solve this problem?

    - In my opinion, this is a complex task, which include information measures and organisational arrangements. It is necessary to create a unified information system of the sea situation on the NSR, which would provide the fleet operators with all the necessary information and allow to carry out both strategic and operational management of the transport and icebreaker fleet.  This is the matter of primary importance taking into consideration the limited resources of the icebreaker fleet.

    Interviewed by Vitaly Chernov.

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