Russian government seeks to hold on to NSR safety duties

Hansa- Valparaiso takes Northern Sea Route credit Hansa Heavy Lift (2) (1). Caption: The Russian government seeks to maintain control of safe shipping operations on the Northern Sea Route. Credit: Hansa Heavy Lift.

Ship safety on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) should stay under the full authority of Russian government agencies amid looming changes to how the route is managed, according to the Transport Ministry.

Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom is seeking permission to take full control as a single regulator of the NSR, which would consolidate its ownership of port infrastructure, ice-breakers and other assets that are currently being operated by the NSR administration and the Transport Ministry. In late 2017, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lent his support to the plan, ordering the government to adjust the federal legislation accordingly “within the shortest possible time”. Rosatom has already started establishing its Arctic division to manage the NSR, placing some relevant orders on the state procurement website late January 2018.

However, Vladimir Olersky, deputy Transport Ministry of Russia, said that certain details of the upcoming reform were still being shaped and the Ministry could not transfer its authority on the NSR over to Rosatom until the amendments to federal legal acts are approved by Parliament. He added that there will be some duties on the NSR that the government does not want to pass to Rosatom, including shipping safety.

“We are currently in consultations on that matter, and I hope, we will be able to find some workable solution. At least we believe that shipping safety [on the NSR] should stay within the authority of the Transport Ministry,” Olersky said, not elaborating what exact duties the Ministry wanted to keep.

In the bill, designed by Rosatom in late 2017, the corporation expressed its readiness to perform all duties on the NSR, including those associated with shipping safety in the region, such as “assisting on search and rescue missions” performed by the Emergency Ministry and its territorial units.

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