Russian Railways to expand grid to Arctic Sabetta

The new railway will help develop the Northern Sea Route

Russia will build a railway to Sabetta, a small town on the Yamal Peninsula, which has recently become the centre for industrial production as well as for the development of the Northern Sea Route. The region's authorities expect ''significant effects on the economy and the budget system''.

The construction of what is known as the so-called Northern Latitudinal Passage will be launched this winter, says The Barents Observer citing Governor of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Dmitry Artyukhov. The corresponding project concessional agreement was signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on 15 August.

According to the governor, construction machinery is already on its way to the region. After building a major bridge across the Ob River, which is considered to be the most complicated part of the project, construction workers will proceed with 350 km of new railway to connect the current Northern and Sverdlovsk lines. The construction of the railway to Sabetta is the second step of the Northern Latitudinal Passage project.

«Our objective is to expand the grid of the Russian Railways to Sabetta'', Artyukhov said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin last week. ''It is, of course, a crucial centre for current Arctic developments and, without doubt, the main centre for development of the Northern Sea Route''. In the past few years, Sabetta has transformed from a small desolate village into a vibrant industrial town that ships out a major share of all goods moving along the Northern Sea Route.

Yamal LNG plant is key industrial facility located in Sabetta. Photo:

Novatek's LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula will soon produce more than 17 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year, which is shipped out through Arctic waters to European and Asian customers. As soon as the company's next projects come into operation, the volumes will increase to 60 million tonnes. Such a boost in industrial production requires new infrastructure. The development of the Northern Latitudinal Passage ''includes the efficient launch of a huge Russian oil and gas province, the boost of shipping on the Northern Sea Route and significant effects on the economy and the budget system'', Artyukhov told project partners earlier last week.

President Putin has previously expressed support for the development of the Yamal Peninsula. At his big annual press conference in 2015, he urged to develop Sabetta into ''a universal port for all kind of goods'', as it is ''a very convenient place with really good logistics''.

By Anna Litvina

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