Russia signs Chinese firm to build deepwater port on Arctic Circle edge

With global warming freeing northern seas from ice, Russia wants a new deepwater port on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and has signed up a Chinese company to build it.

Tapping into increased trade along the freezing top of the Eurasian land mass, the port would be 55km north of the city of Arkhangelsk (pictured).

A memorandum of understanding was signed this month between the newly established Arctic Transport and Industrial Centre and Poly International, a private company based in Beijing.

The port will be built near the Mudyug Island in the Dvina river delta close to the existing port facilities for larger vessels, News29 agency reports.

Russia aims to take advantage of an increasingly open northern passage for ships plying between East Asia, Europe and North America through the Barents and East Siberian seas.

This route cuts a journey between Yokohama, Japan and Hamburg, Germany by 37% compared to the southern route through the Suez Canal, according to a Financial Times report.

The agreement also covers the construction of a 1,161km railway between the port and mining and industrial centres in the southern Urals, called the Belkomur railway.

According to The Barents Observer, Arctic Transport estimates that the throughput for the port will reach 30 million tonnes by 2030. By comparison, the Murmansk Commercial Seaport had a turnover of 16 million tonnes in 2012.

Although the advance of global warming will increase the number of ice-free days, the port is intended to operate throughout the winter, with the help of icebreakers.

Meanwhile, port facilities are to be built In Murmansk, on the west side of the Kola Bay. A 46km railway is now under construction, and is due to be complete by March 2018.

Image: The promenade alongside River Dvina in Arkhangelsk (Hans Olav Lien/Creative Commons)

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