Experts: Murmansk seaport plays key role in Arctic shipments

Some of these logistics routes will be year-round and where the port’s facilities will be used permanently

Seaport in Murmansk© Lev Fedoseyev/TASS

MURMANSK, November 26. /TASS/. The ice-free year-round seaport in Murmansk plays a key role in cargo handling in the Arctic, including shipments along the Northern Sea Route, said experts, participating in the 13th international conference – Development of the Arctic Shelf: Step by Step, organized in Murmansk.

According to Mikhail Grigoryev, a member of the Academy of Sciences’ council on geology and development of oil, gas and coal deposits, Murmansk is the only port in the Arctic’s western sector, where could be organized handling complexes for shuttled transportation. “The earlier announced projects of a deepwater port in Arkhangelsk, of the Indiga port are not likely to be implemented soon, and we cannot really rely on their active participation in the freight flow,” he said.

The Murmansk port will be a key player in a series of logistics routes, some of which will be year-round and where the port’s facilities will be used permanently, the expert continued. He mentioned current project – the Varandeiskoye oil field, the Kara Sea shelf field, and Novatek’s gas liquefying projects, including Arctic LNG-2.

“While nowadays we say the Murmansk port handles insufficient amounts for transportations along the Northern Sea Route, we do realize that in 2023, 2024, 2025 the transportation of just one gravity-based structure (for the Arctic LNG-2 project) will mean almost another half a million tonnes of handled cargo,” he said.

Future projects involving Murmansk port

Another project, where the Murmansk port will be involved, is implemented by the Rosatom state-run corporation. According to the expert, the corporation is organizing a year-round container line between Vladivostok and Murmansk. “Rosatom plans a module cargo line between two Russian ports – Vladivostok and Murmansk,” he said. “It will serve international transit routes, as well as a big amount of domestic shipments. Hubs in Murmansk and Vladivostok will have two tasks. The first is to handle cargo between vessels, and the second – the connection with the railway line both for incoming and outgoing shipments.”

A large-scale project, which will keep busy the Murmansk port, is Rosneft’s Vostok Oil. The field on the Taimyr Peninsula is expected to produce about 115 million tonnes of oil a year. The shipment is planned along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Shipments via Murmansk

Alexei Lapotnikov of the Atomflot nuclear fleet authority with headquarters in Murmansk assured the audience the expected cargo turnover along NSR is a doable task. Atomflot’s responsibility is to provide icebreaker services in the high latitudes.

“Last year, we registered another record – almost 33 million tonnes, and this year [NSR cargo turnover] will be about 34 million tonnes, or, perhaps, slightly more. Our main task, the president’s May order – to make it 80 million tonnes a year by 2024,” he said.

Atomflot has been negotiating year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route with Rosneft’s Vostok Oil and Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2, he added.

Port’s facilities

The Murmansk port’s currently used facilities serving the Arctic transportation are berths of the Murmansk Commercial Seaport. The port handles cargo heading for many Arctic ports – Sabetta, Dikson, Khatanga, Franz Josef Land, the Kotelny Island, and others. The port serves the Sevmorput nuclear-powered cargo ship, and vessels serving offshore oil and gas projects.

“This year, we have managed to handle big amounts of Arctic cargoes, going to the Northern ports,” the Murmansk Commercial Seaport’s Commercial Director Andrei Dotsenko said. “In the past, we used mostly one berth, and this year we had to use three berths, as the grown cargo flow required additional space and efforts.”

“This year, we register records in handling Arctic cargoes. We plan to handle 676,000 tonnes, this is what we can expect from the contracted vessels. 625,000 tonnes are bulk cargoes that are produced in the Murmansk Region. Crushed stone and sand, which are high-quality building materials for infrastructure projects in the Arctic,” he said, adding for the present year the commercial port’s general cargo turnover will be about 15.5 million tonnes, according to pessimistic forecasts.

NSR shipments

According to the Murmansk port’s representative, the port has doubled in the current year the number of voyages along the Northern Sea Route: 19 against 9 year-on-year, where seven voyages have been escorted by icebreakers. As for the port’s general cargo turnover along NSR, it also has doubled. “431 tonnes in 2020, and almost 1 million tonnes this year along the Northern Sea Route, it is iron ore concentrate. I also would like to stress one maximum shipment has grown to 118,000 tonnes,” he said.

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