Progress of the ARCOP project Печать E-mail

KIMMO JUURMAA Kvaemer Masa-Yards Inc


ARCOP comes from the words Arctic Operational Platform. It is a research and development project for the Northern Sea Route.

ARCOP is co-funded by the Directorate-General Energy and Transport under the 5-th European Community Framework Program for Research and Technological Development.

The approach selected for ARCOP is a scenario based R&D project. The feasibility of Arctic marine transportation is assessed by a realistic transportation scenario. The feasibility is analysed for safety, technology and economics.

The work within ARCOP is organized into б work packages each dealing with a special group of concerns. The seventh work package is to co-ordinate the Russian participation in the project and to make sure that the Russian knowledge and experience as well as the Russian interests are properly considered in the work.

ARCOP scenario

The selected scenario to be used within ARCOP is oil transportation from Varanday to Rotterdam. This scenario was selected because it is realistic enough and because the common interests between Russia and EU can easily be seen here. Also the South-East part of the Barents Sea can be seen as first step in developing a large scale transportation system for the actual Northern Sea Route area.

The transportation volume that we will use in this scenario is 328.000 barrels per day or 16 million tones per year. Some previous studies have indicated that this volume is too small to be feasible in that area, but we consider this as an extra challenge for the project.

During the project an economic model of the transportation scenario will be developed and the influence on the economics of each item of concern will be analysed. The transportation cost of one ton of gas condensate from Yamal to Rotterdam was 70 USD/ton during the ARCDEV voyage. Within ARCOP we try to find means that will result 15 USD/ton for the route Varanday to Rotterdam. With the same means we expect any transportation in the Arctic to become feasible.

WP1 Ice information

Previous studies as well as the Russian experience have shown that successful and effective navigation through ice is possible only when there is reliable information on the ice conditions and there is a method to use this information to select the optimum route. These methods to produce and analyze the data have been developed in Russia and also for the Baltic. Today there is an ongoing project IRIS (Ice Ridge Information System) which aims at producing reliable information and predictions for ridged ice on the sea lanes. This project is clustered with ARCOP and the actual adoption of the IRIS results into ARCOP will be started in 2005. So far the results reported within IRIS have been encouraging.

WP2 Legal and administrative issues

Most of the big concerns among Western investors are related to the legal and administrative issues. For this reason this topic has been selected into ARCOP.

By now it is clear that majority of the questions regarding the legal status of the NSR have been solved. There are some concerns regarding the freedom of competition and equal treatment as required by WTO agreement and these will be discussed within ARCOP.

Today the ice classification rules cause confusion internationally. Introduction of the new IACS Polar Classes will leave open the question of required power and this will then be decided by national authorities. There will be no method to have an ice class which could be used as reference towards in the national guidelines. Also this topic has and will further be discussed within ARCOP.

One big cost item in the shipping is the insurance. There is very limited amount of background data to be used for this purpose and the insurance community needs additional information from the practise. On the other the work done for this topic indicates the willingness and interest of the insurance community to solve this problem.

We have also analysed the border crossing process and we will produce recommendations on how to minimize the loss of time for this.

WPS Integrated transportation system

The core of ARCOP is the actual transportation system with the ships, the loading facilities and the required infrastructure.
So far we have developed the basic tanker concepts for different size of tankers as well as concepts for icebreaker alternatives that can assist these vessels. The economic analyses to compare the alternatives will be conducted early next year when all the basic data is available.

The shallow coast lines in the Russian Arctic means that the loading of large vessels must be done offshore. In addition to the offshore terminal this means sub-sea pipelines. Sub-sea pipelines present an environmental risk and need proper design. This problem has also be studied within ARCOP and the recommendations are to be developed.

In addition to the ships and terminals the marine transportation needs also qualified people. One of the findings within ARCOP so far is that there is very little of training for crew members of a ship intended for ice operation. This lack of international training of the marine personnel for ice operations appears to be a major risk. The large number of accidents that took place in the Baltic during winter 2003 was mainly due to human error. Recommendations to arrange this training are urgently needed.

WP4 Environmental Protection

One of the major concerns among public and the European Commission is the environmental safety. Within ARCOP we are developing methodology for environmental impact assessment and for the risk assessment in Arctic navigation. The work done so far indicates that drifting grounding accident forms highest risk in the Arctic. This result assumes that the ships have proper ice strengthening and ice damages are thus eliminated. Regarding the tankers probability for sinking due to fire or collision is estimated to be 0.5 % for 2003-2020. These figures and conclusions will be refined during the project.

In the environmental impact research we have been concentrating on the sea ice biota meaning the communities living actually in the ice. Sea ice biota is a vulnerable part of the Arctic marine ecosystem and obviously sensitive to oil spills. The oil spill effects will be assessed during the project.

In the oil spill response work we are concentrating on two alternatives, mechanical oil recovery and in-situ burning. The first report on this topic gives a good overview on the exiting methods. Recommendations on how to arrange the environmental protection in the selected scenario will be developed.

WP5 Validation voyage

At the end of the project we are planning to arrange a validation voyage to demonstrate the project findings. One demonstration voyage the ARCDEV was arranged in 1998. This time we intend to focus more on the problems with large tankers and high transportation volumes. The selection of the route for this voyage will depend on the availability of commercial cargoes and large vessels.

WP6 Workshops

The core of the operational platform part of ARCOP are the workshops. They are intended for discussion and advice. We hope that as many of the interested parties as possible will join this activity and express their views, concerns and suggestions. So far there has been 5 workshops organised and they have been quite successful and useful for the participants and especially for the project.

All the workshop presentations, summaries of the discussion and the conclusion have been published on our web-site.



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