The government of the Russian Federation is already preparing, as early as 2019, to prohibit the transportation of oil, gas and coal produced in the Russian Arctic on the Northern Sea Route by foreign vessels. The draft Minpromtorg, agreed by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Energy, should soon be submitted to the government. The measures should ensure the loading of the superstructure Zvezda, which Rosneft is building in the Far East, but can seriously damage the plans of other oil and gas companies, primarily NOVATEK.
The bill of the Ministry of Industry and Trade on the prohibition of the use of foreign vessels for the transportation of oil, gas and coal produced in the Russian Arctic is basically agreed upon and may be submitted to the government in the near future, Kommersant sources said. The document was the development of the initiative on the mandatory use of the Russian flag on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) - the relevant amendments to the code of merchant shipping were adopted at the end of last year (see "Kommersant" on November 17, 2017).
Now the Ministry of Industry and Trade offers for the same categories, that is, transportation and storage of oil, oil products, liquefied gas and coal extracted in the Russian Arctic, as well as icebreaker and pilotage, cabotage and marine resource research on the shelf, from 2019, the requirement to apply only Russian-made vessels. In the case of transport, the requirement extends to transportation to the first point of unloading or transhipment outside the NSR. According to one of the interlocutors of Kommersant, the requirements will also apply to freight and rent. Exceptions are possible: if the cost of equipment exceeds 1 billion rubles, the question will be decided by the subcommittee on import substitution headed by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. According to Kommersant's information, at a meeting with Vladimir Putin the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin offered to increase the limit of the value to 10 billion rubles, but this was not supported.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade says that the draft was supported by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Energy. The Ministry of Transport specified that they sent a revised version to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Ministry of Energy "welcomes the initiative," but believes that the term of the law's entry into force "should be determined in stages, taking into account the capabilities of Russian shipyards." Now the document is under evaluation of regulatory impact (ODS), the Ministry of Economics promised that it will be ready in the near future. According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant", ODS is likely to be negative, but "Dmitry Rogozin strongly presses", and the likelihood of an early review of the project in the government is high.
The new regulation will primarily affect oil and gas companies operating in the Arctic. Oil and gas on the Northern Sea Route are still transported only by NOVATEK and Gazprom Neft, LUKOIL's terminal Varandey is located in the Pechora Sea (not formally part of the Northern Sea Route). "Rosneft" on the Arctic shelf only conducts geological exploration. Gazprom Neft is currently transporting oil via the NSR as part of the Novoportovskoye field development by shuttle tankers (six of them built in South Korea) to a storage vessel in Murmansk and then shipped for export. According to the interlocutor of "Kommersant" in the company, her bill touches little, "there is a problem with one tanker that can be solved." Rosneft, LUKoil and Gazprom Neft declined to comment.
The main problems arise in NOVATEK. Theoretically, the new regulation can seriously affect even the already launched Yamal LNG, since by the beginning of 2019 not all gas tankers (built in South Korea) for the project will be commissioned. The future "Arctic LNG" project of 19.8 million tons of LNG a year and the preliminary cost of about $ 20 billion of amendments can put on the brink of cancellation, a number of interlocutors of "Kommersant." According to one of them, within the framework of negotiations between NOVATEK and the shipyard Zvezda (being built in the Far East), the gas company was offered to build an LNG tanker 80% more expensive than in South Korea, "and this without quality assurance and timely delivery" . Sources of Kommersant called NOVATEK the only opponent of innovations.
In the very NOVATEK recognize that "the development of the shipbuilding industry in Russia requires support." But, emphasize in the company, on this account decisions and orders have already been issued, instructions given by NOVATEK are given. The proposed amendments, the company says, will actually stop existing Arctic projects and make it impossible to implement new ones.
Head of USC Alexei Rakhmanov told Kommersant that the state corporation always supported the idea of such a bill: "If there are more ships under the Russian flag, more ships are built in Russia, this automatically means more orders, including USC." But, he admitted, "the most important thing is that we do not bite ourselves by the tail, if we forbid everyone to build abroad, but we can not." The interlocutor of "Kommersant" in the industry notes that there is a general understanding about the need for "safety mechanisms", if the shipyards can not provide the order. It is assumed that large shipbuilding will be built by the Zvezda shipyard (managed by a consortium of Rosneft, Rosneftegaz and Gazprombank), but the enterprise is only under construction.