Russia unveils schedule for the Liinahamari port construction

Liinahamari Harbour, ice-free in summer months. Credit: Liinahamari Harbour

The Russian government has scheduled to begin building Liinahamari port in Murmansk Oblast in the third quarter of 2021, Eugene Syichev, a spokesperson of the government’s initiative for Arctic development, said during a press conference on February 20.

The port project, which is part of the government initiative, would have a transhipment capacity of 500,000 teu and 1 million tonnes of bulk cargoes per year, plus some infrastructure for accommodating cruise liners could be established, Syichev said.

The construction is slated to be finished in 2024, he added.

To some extent, the project could be supported with the tax breaks for new Arctic seaports recently proposed by the Russian government, said Alexander Krutikov, deputy minister for Far East and Arctic development, at the same press conference.

The companies building new seaports in the Arctic will benefit from 0% income tax for the first 10 years of their operation, according to a draft law recently submitted to the State Duma, lower chamber of the Russian parliament.

Liinahamari could become an important element of Russia’s infrastructure development in the Arctic, since it is going to be the second ice-free port in the region, alongside with Murmansk, according to the deputy minister.

“The city [Murmansk] could become one of the two hubs of the northern sea transport corridor and a service centre for the different projects on the Russian sea shelf. Several mineral companies are expected to be launched in the region [Murmansk Oblast], focussed on mining and enrichment various solid commercial minerals,” Krutikov said.

Russian newspaper Kommersant reported, citing its own sources, that some investors from China, Oman, and South Korea expressed their interest in the Liinahamari port project. However, the project has been facing resistance from the Russian Security Council.

The Liinahamari seaport would be located to close to the Russian border and this poses certain risks from a security point of view, Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council wrote in a letter to the government. Pechenga Bay, where Liinahamari port is located, is actively used by the Russian Navy, Patrushev said, adding that none of the major Russian oil or gas-extracting companies had expressed their interest in participating in this project.