The exploitation of the Arctic deposits is supported by Rosatom, the only company in the world to have a fleet of breezes nuclear ice.
When will this ambitious project run at full capacity and what profit promises the conquest of the Arctic to Russia?
A real treasure
According to experts' estimates, the Arctic's basements are home to nearly 10 billion tons of oil (about 83 billion barrels) and approximately 1.550 trillion cubic meters of gas. In addition to hydrocarbons, the Arctic contains platinum and rare earths, as well as copper and nickel ores, tantalum, niobium, gold and diamonds. There are also in the Arctic some minerals whose country is in deficit.
"On the plateaux of the Arctic seas, minerals have already been discovered which are solicited both in Russian industry and in foreign markets. To date, we can talk about more than ten placer (valuable ore deposits), "said Anton Sergueev, spokesperson for Rosgeologia.
The expert pointed out that since the study of the Arctic plateau is "very uneven", it is still possible to discover dozens of new deposits of solid ores.
The exploitation of all these resources requires not only a particular approach, but also special equipment designed to work in the harsh Arctic conditions. For now, nothing like it exists – but Russia has an asset.
"We are working on the underwater production of solid and difficult-to-extract minerals," says Viktor Litvinenko of the Promising Research Foundation.
The main project for extraction of minerals in the Arctic will certainly be "Iceberg", which consists of five related subprojects.
The first element of Iceberg is the seismic exploration device with an immersion depth of up to 400 m. The work is carried out underwater, and not from ships that could only be in the search area for two months in the summer and only along the coast.
The second level is the 24 Mw submarine energy system, capable of operating autonomously in the absence of man and a technical maintenance for 8,000 hours, that is for almost a year. The service life of the underwater "battery" should be 30 years.
The third element of the project is a robotic drill composed of three modules which, as a whole, constitutes a deserted underwater city controlled by engineers from the coast. The station will independently drill the bottom, prepare and supply drilling mud, and lay the pipes.
The fourth part is one of the most interesting: it will be a catamaran submarine complex created from two interconnected submarines. Apart from the freight forwarding, he will take care of the maintenance of the equipment already installed – repairs, adjustments and, if necessary, dismantling and transportation to the coast.
Finally, the fifth element is a specialized security system the details of which are not yet revealed and which, for obvious reasons, will not be accessible to the general public in the coming years.
Iceberg is not simply a fantastic idea for Russian engineers: according to Viktor Litvinenko, the project's technical documentation has already been sent to Rosatom. This means that the construction of the first prototypes will begin very soon, and that a joint venture will certainly be created bringing together, apart from Rosatom, Gazprom, Rosneft, the United Shipbuilding Company and Rostec.
An arena of ice
In the coming years, the Arctic is set to become a crucial region, where most of the world's hydrocarbons will be extracted. This new configuration stems from the fact that the largest oil and gas companies have significantly reduced their expenditures for the exploration of new deposits. According to Reuters, in 2016, the number of deposits discovered has reached a minimum for 70 years.
Energy companies would suffer huge losses by investing in exploration if oil was cheap. If the price rises to $ 100 or more, exploration would be depreciated, but the growth of emerging economies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, would be slowed down.
The two scenarios would be beneficial for Russia: the reduction of competition for resources would increase the share of Russian hydrocarbons in the world market, which would offer more opportunities to regulate the price of fuel and would protect emerging economies against energy crisis, even despite the possible sanctions of the West.
There is always another way
The ambitious tasks of Russia in the Arctic do not stop there. At the end of September, Rosatom and the VTB bank signed a memorandum on the financing of projects guaranteeing safe year-round maritime navigation via the Northern Maritime Route.
"Their implementation will require the creation of a stable infrastructure, the first element of which is a sufficient number of icebreakers capable of transporting minerals to different destinations – Europe and Asia," stresses Kirill Komarov. , Deputy Director General of Rosatom.
For his part, VTB Vice President Valeri Lukyanenko spoke about the ongoing discussions on financing the construction of LK-60 class icebreakers, as well as the negotiations that are coming to an end on the biggest icebreaker. nuclear world, Lider, of a water displacement greater than 71,000 tons.
The interest of foreign carriers in the Northern Maritime Route is growing rapidly. At the end of September, the Arctic was crossed for the first time by a freighter from the Danish company Maersk. The Danes conducted this test navigation to assess the safety of the route and ensure that the route from Asia to Europe via the Northern Sea Route took much less time than via the Pacific Ocean and the Suez Canal.
The Northern Sea Route has other advantages: the economy of chartering the ship and the fuel, the absence of a queue like in the Suez Canal and, above all, the safety of navigation. Indeed, it is unlikely that Somali pirates will go to the Arctic to board cargo ships aboard drifting glaciers.