On September 6, 2022, as part of the business program of the VII Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the first meeting of the Council of the NSR Shipping Participants was held. The meeting was attended by permanent members of the Council and invited participants.
The Council of the NSR Shipping Participants was created as part of the execution of the order of the President of the Russian Federation. Within the framework of the Council's work, it is planned to discuss and develop proposals to improve the efficiency of interaction between operators of investment projects, shipping companies engaged in cargo transportation in the waters of the Northern Sea Route, and ROSATOM as the NSR infrastructure operator.
The meeting was opened by Sergey Frank, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PJSC Sovcomflot and Chairman of the Council of the NSR Shipping Participants.
"In the current conditions, the relevance of the issues of shipping development in the Arctic is steadily increasing. The Council is to work out effective mechanisms for such development based on the coordination of the positions of various parties involved: fleet operators, cargo owners, and ROSATOM as a single regulator. The first steps to establish such interaction are encouraging. We can see ROSATOM's openness to issues important to other participants – in particular, the subject of further elaboration of the Rules of NSR Navigation. This openness speaks to ROSATOM's endeavor to regulate the Arctic in a balanced manner. We hope that the feedback mechanism will be permanent and effective, as, ultimately, the regulator's effectiveness will be seen in the coherent coexistence and confident development of all participants in economic activity in the waters of the NSR," said Sergey Frank.
In his turn, addressing the participants of the Council, Alexey Likhachev, CEO of ROSATOM, noted: "Shipping along the Northern Sea Route has been actively developing in recent years. Consignors are building basic infrastructure – ports, ordering ships, tapping deposit resources. Both the number of vessels on the NSR and the number of shipping participants are steadily growing. Now we understand the need for coordination of actions in order to build effective work on the NSR to develop optimal mechanisms for managing Arctic shipping between consignors, shipping companies, the state, and infrastructure operators providing communication, data on the state of ice sheets, weather conditions. Today, our common primary goal is safety, followed by other objectives that are just as important, namely, commercial attractiveness and sustainable navigation along the NSR. It is to solve these problems that the Council of the NSR Shipping Participants was created."
During the meeting, the participants of the Council were presented with a report on improving ice forecasts in order to increase the efficiency of navigation in the Arctic. "Today we are in the active phase of implementing the measures of the Northern Sea Route Development Plan for the period up to 2035. The key measure of our work is the reliability of automated ice forecasts. By the end of 2024 (with continued funding), it will be at least 90 percent for online forecasts. The implementation of the Plan's measures and the technologies being created will form the basis for ensuring the safety of navigation in the waters of the NSR and will be used as part of our joint work with ROSATOM and interested consumers," said Dmitry Zaitsev, Deputy Head of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring.
Nikolay Shabalin, Executive Director of the Marine Research Center of Lomonosov Moscow State University and Special Representative for Maritime Activities of Russia, made a presentation on ensuring environmental safety of navigation in the waters of the NSR. He drew attention to the need for a competent scientific approach to environmental aspects and reducing the ecological footprint in the Arctic, spoke about the developed program for environmental monitoring of the NSR water area and its differences from existing monitoring programs, and stressed the importance of using international experience and sharing public data for the program to match the best international practices.
"To ensure the environmental safety of the waters of the Russian Arctic, year-round and systematic environmental monitoring is necessary to be implemented at several levels. It is necessary to collect and process both materials obtained in field expeditions and satellite imagery data and operational information from automatic sensors along the NSR route. Equally important is the creation of a separate subsystem of environmental monitoring of the NSR, which will be integrated with the Russian Federation national environmental monitoring system. Such subsystem will not only make it possible to promptly and accurately monitor the situation in the Arctic seas, controlling the environmental safety of economic activities, but will also allow the collected data to be used to model the ongoing processes while taking into account climate change and global trends," said Nikolai Shabalin.
Arctic shipping has been steadily developing over the past 5 years. Year-round navigation in the western sector is already a fact; today the main focus is on readiness for year-round navigation in the eastern area of the NSR. Strategic objectives and plans for the development of the NSR infrastructure up to the year 2030 and beyond were presented to the Council participants by Vladimir Panov, ROSATOM's Special Representative for the Development of the Arctic, Deputy Chairman of the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic.
"Under the external pressure of the sanctions imposed, the reorientation of cargo flows to the east has become an obvious fact. Both consumers of our products and potential investors in the development of the Arctic are concentrated in the East. Our mission is to provide year-round navigation starting from December 2024. This is also the aim of joint work on the President's assignment regarding the plan of the NSR up to 2035; we currently continue to interact with consignors to amend the rules of navigation, and today we have proposed a model of NSR navigation for discussion by the Council members. According to estimates made by the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, the Ministry of Economic Development and ROSATOM, by 2035 new projects will create 31.5 trillion of GDP and bring more than 13 trillion rubles of taxes to the budget", Vladimir Panov noted.