Russian oil company makes it through Arctic ice to Cape Tanalau

A file photo of Rosneft’s headquarters in Moscow. ( Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Ice lies thick on the Yenisey River as nuclear-powered icebreaker “Sibir” escorts a cargo ship to the remote terminal applied by oil company Rosneft

It was this year’s first shipment to the key logistical point on the Yenisey, nuclear icebreaker company Rosatomflot informs. It is a complicated operation: depths, course and communications must be carefully prepared ahead of the shipment.

“The most difficult part is the icebreaker’s opening of a channel to the terminal site. It must be as straight as possible so that the escorted ship can get sufficient speed,” icebreaker Captain Konstantin Kelarev explains.

This time, it was cargo ship “Taymyr” that was escorted to shore. The two ships moored near Cape Tanalau and goods from Taymyr were unloaded directly onto the river ice.

The goods onboard the Taymyr will be applied as part of Rosneft’s major Arctic project Vostok Oil.

A big number of shipments will over the next months be sent to Tanalau and other terminals in the area. Rosneft is in a hurry to develop the Vostok Oil, which already by 2024 is to produce several million tons of oil.

The oil company has contracted not only nuclear icebreaker Sibir, but also sister ship Ural, as well as conventional diesel-engined icebreaker Krasin and Viktor Chernomyrdin, Rosatomflot confirms.

The Vostok Oil is making major inroads on environment in the far northern Taymyr Peninsula and environmentalists and indigenous people have expressed concern.

In 2020, a total of 32,97 million tons of goods were shipped on Russia’s Northern Sea Route, of which only about 1,3 million tons was transit shipments. (iStock)

In 2016, a group of representatives of Greenpeace visited Tanalau where they documented serious ecological violations

The difficult weather conditions in the area pose a significant risk of accidents and oil spills, which can inflict irreparable damage on the fragile Arctic environment, the organisation said.

Also indigenous peoples’ organisations have protested. The Association of indigenous peoples of Taymyr in 2016 together with Greenpeace requested federal authorities to monitor the rights of the local people in the area.

Tanalau was previously planned to house a new major seaport for oil shipments. Rosneft has now altered plans and is instead building a bigger terminal further north in Sever Bay. But Tanalau will still see plenty of shipments as part of Vostok Oil. According to Rosneft, it is one of 16 sites that will be used as terminal mooring points along the northern parts of the Yenisey.

In the course of winter of 2023, more than 500,000 tons of construction materials are to be transported to the mooring points, Rosneft informs.

According to the company, the Vostok Oil is the biggest industrial project currently under development in Russia.

The project includes more than 50 license areas in the Taymyr Peninsula. By year 2030, as much as 100 million tons of oil are to be extracted per year.

The development of Vostok Oil comes at at time when Russian hydrocarbons are under mounting pressure in the international market. But Rosneft and its leader Igor Sechin argues that there is a major global demand for the hydrocarbons and actively lobby potential buyers in countries like India and China.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Arctic Canadian community says oil moratorium renewal doesn’t go far enough, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Equinor postpones decision on northernmost oil field, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian Arctic coal is looking for way out of sanctions, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Will the green transition be the new economic motor in the Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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