Russia needs to expand its dredging fleet to develop infrastructure on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in accordance with the government plan for the area, Maxim Kulinko, director of the NSR department of Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom, told local news outlet Port News.
“We have a task set by the Russian government to consider feasibility of establishing a specialised dredging company, able to execute all orders [on the NSR]. There is no ready solution for this task, but we are thinking about forming a national dredging fleet group,” Kulinko said.
“There is an added complication that during times of icy conditions in the Arctic the dredging fleet needs to operate elsewhere, and this would not be a core business for us. Dredging on the NSR is also challenged by the short navigation period during which we need to organise the fleet, finish works, and move away before the heavy icy conditions begin,” Kulinko said.
The number of dredging projects on the NSR is growing, according to Kulinko.
In 2019, Rosatom carried out dredging works on the Utrenniy terminal in the Ob Bay of Kara Sea, for dredging company Mordraga. The latter is a solutions provider for port construction and land reclamation and part of DEME Group.
The cost of the project is estimated at RUB40 billion (USD650 million).
Over the past few years, the Russian government has considered establishing a national dredging company that would create a monopoly on the Russian dredging market. The government estimated that it would take USD350 million to purchase at least 15 dredgers for the new company and launch the project.
Speaking in 2019, Andrey Mushkarev, a spokesperson for Russian dredging company IEC, said that the government was discouraged as several foreign dredging companies had generated an estimated revenue of USD1.5 billion on projects that paid directly into the Russian economy. Mushkarev said that it was dangerous to depend on foreign investment, especially given the introduction of sanctions by Western companies against different segments of the Russian economy.
A draft plan approved by the Russian government envisaged that a national dredging company should be established by 2026.