Coal has been a key part of the ambitious Russian plans to boost shipments on the Northern Sea Route to 80 million tons by 2024. But the black carbon-rich rocks might not constitute a major shipping commodity on the Arctic route any time soon.
The developer of the Syradasayskoye mine in the Taymyr Peninsula is still a long way from building a fleet of vessels needed for the shipment of the coal through the remote Arctic waters. Severnaya Zvezda originally planned to build a major fleet of ice-class carriers designed for sailing through Arctic sea-ice, and the first two of them were to be in operation by the end of 2025. However, so far, Severnaya Zvezda has not signed a single contract on ship building, newspaper Kommersant reports.
Previously, company representatives have said that 16 ships of the Arcticmax class are needed, each with a 90,000 tons carrying capacity.
Severnaya Zvezda is a subsidiary unit of Arctic Energy, a company owned by Roman Trotsenko. Arctic Energy was included in the U.S sanctions list this year. Although Roman Trotsenko himself is not on the list, the U.S authorities have targeted key parts of his business empire.
In November 2023, the Trotsenko family’s flagship private investment vehicle AEON was put on the list, along with 16 other connecting companies. Trotsenko is believed to stand close to Vladimir Putin and his people in the Kremlin.
Without the projected fleet of carriers, Trotsenko’s Severnaya Zvezda will have to lean on foreign ships to export coal from the Taymyr Peninsula. That, however, could prove itself difficult following the inclusion in the U.S sanctions. Meanwhile, Severnaya Zvezda reportedly continues to develop infrastructure and production facilities in the remote Taymyr.
According to the company, a powerful ship-loading machine will by early 2024 be set up at the project port terminal. It has the capacity to load as much as 3,000 tons of coal per hour.
In addition, seaport development on the coast of the Yenisey Bay continues along with dredging in adjacent waters. A working village with 5,500 square meter of housing space is already built and the 56 km long road that connects the coal mine with the seaport is ready.
According to the company, it is China and the Asian market that will be key destination for the Syradasayskoye coal. The plan is that ice-class ships will shuttle to the Yenisey Bay accompanied by powerful icebreakers. But none of that will happen unless Severnaya Zvezda gets hold of the needed ships.