Siberian Federal University: KEF discusses how the Arctic megaproject will ensure the development of the northern territories

The Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum discussed specific projects of public-private partnership (for example, development of the Toktomsk field), and the rules and approaches to the development of the North, the need to take into account the interests of the indigenous population, and more.

Nikolai Kharitonov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Regional Policy and Problems of the North and the Far East, spoke about the legislative aspect of the development of the northern territories and the package of laws being developed for the Arctic.

“Last year, such documents as Fundamentals of State Policy of the Russian Federation and Strategy for the Development of the Arctic Zone of Russia were adopted. The package of federal laws on the system of preferences in the Arctic was signed by the President on 13 July 2020. They are really designed to give the Arctic the most favourable conditions for business. In fact, the Russian Arctic has become the world’s largest economic zone with an area of over 5 million sq.km and a competitive set of conditions. For residents, the terms of scheduled inspections are reduced, their mechanism is simplified, and customs procedures of the free zone are applied. The residents are provided with federal, regional and local tax incentives. There are subsidies for reimbursement of costs and more. These conditions have already received a good response from the business: 74 enterprises with projects worth 188 billion roubles became residents of this region. Six projects received government support: a mining and metallurgical plant, new port terminals, large trout farms, and more. We expect that the implementation of such projects will create an additional cargo flow for the Northern Sea Route”.

Valery Kryukov, director of the Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, entered the discussion polemically, stating that there is currently no urgent need for the development of the Arctic resources in the country’s economy.

“Let us take oil. Our oil recovery factor is about 27-29%, in Norway and America — 50-60%. We can complete developing what was previously involved in development in other regions. Resources do not root in the development but in the formation of demand for these resources in other regions of the country. So it is necessary to talk about the role and significance of the natural resource potential of the Arctic in the context of interaction with other regions of Russia. The Arctic can and should be one of the generators of the formation of new chains, new interconnections of the country’s spatial development. It is necessary to shift the focus from production volumes to the benefits and effects that all participants in such projects can receive. The keywords here are cooperation and synergy. Cooperation along extended chains of making values. These chains begin in the North, end in Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, and so on. Today, despite all the legislative documents, the Arctic has gone on a separate voyage. Siberian and Far Eastern cities — Omsk, Tyumen, Chita, Krasnoyarsk, Khabarovsk — have little technological, design or intellectual connection with the implementation of Arctic projects. The main supply of equipment, the main potential used in these projects, is located either in the European part or far beyond the Russian borders. A striking example is Yamal LNG. Crushed stone was delivered there from a port in Norway. The Arctic does not tolerate fuss. We need a detailed study of the entire chain, starting from the entry into the project. This is the practice of Alaska, Norway, Canada, and all those countries that have been involved in projects in the Arctic conditions. Today, Russian Arctic projects are high costs with an insignificant territorial coverage and underdeveloped technological chains. These questions must be brought up. We need to talk not only about resources but also about modern approaches. We need to understand that Arctic projects, like space, should be integrated into the chains of other regions of the Russian Federation, and first of all, the Siberian ones”.

The vice-rector for Research of Siberian Federal University Ruslan Baryshev spoke about the training of specialists for the Arctic and the young School of the North and the Arctic founded a year ago. The educational programs of the university are focused on both the master level and the preparatory level: now the Northern School of SibFU is preparing 18 schoolchildren so that they can pass the Unified State Examination this summer and enter the university.

He also mentioned the importance of scientific research for solving the problems of the North. According to the SibFU management, the study and development of the Arctic are impossible without solving applied problems — from the development of design solutions to reduce snowdrifts on highways in the North and the nordization of not only building materials but also food products, to the global theme of providing the country’s economy with rare and rare earth metals. Research on these and other topics has long been conducted at Siberian Federal University. The vice-rector emphasized that the goal of the School of the North and the Arctic is to train specialists with high professional competencies necessary for the development of the Arctic regions.

“This means that it is important to establish effective interaction with organizations that carry out practical activities in these areas, and to make network programs, to attract specialists of the highest level to train northern personnel,” notes Ruslan Baryshev.

The possible cooperation outlined in the course of the discussion, when Anton Zubkov, deputy general director for Strategy of Rusatom Infrastructural Solutions JSC, spoke about the practice of processing ash and slag waste, from which the company makes various products within the framework of the Smart City project, in particular, road surfaces; and Yuri Zakharinsky, head of the Department for Comprehensive Arctic Studies at Siberian Federal University, presented one of the projects related to the renovation of Norilsk residential buildings coated with gas ash and slag panels. Rusatom’s technology will surely come in useful for this northern city.

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