Category Archives: Opinions

Extraordinary Antarctica heatwave, 70 degrees above normal, would likely set a world record

By Caitlin Kaiser and Angela Fritz, CNN

March 28 2022

Scientists were shocked this month when a research station in Antarctica reported extraordinarily warm weather.

The temperature at Concordia Research station atop Dome C on the Antarctic Plateau — typically known as the coldest place on Earth — surged to an astounding 11.3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-11.5 Celsius) on March 18.

The normal high temperature for the day is around minus-56 Fahrenheit (minus-49 Celsius), which puts the March 18 reading at close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (around 38 Celsius) warmer than normal.

If the World Meteorological Organization actually tracked this particular metric, scientists say it would likely set a world record.

While 11 degrees Fahrenheit is not warm by any stretch, it is unheard of for this part of Antarctica, and 70 degrees above average is similarly astounding.

It would be as if the high temperature in Washington, DC, on Monday — normally 61 degrees — was an unthinkable 131 degrees. In reality, the warmest it’s ever been there on March 28 was 85 degrees.

The coldest place on Earth?

Concordia’s temperature was a record for the highest temperature not only in the month of March, but an “absolute record” for any month, according to Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist at Meteo-France, the French meteorology service.

And it wasn’t the only location to set record high temperatures that day.

Vostok, the Russian research base famous for logging the coldest temperature in the world, reported a high temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit — 63 degrees warmer than the average for the day. The temperature shattered the station’s previous record for March by almost 27 degrees.

With more than 60 years of data, this record “is unheard of in the history of climatology,” according to a Meteo-France analysis.

The extreme warmth in Antarctica raises concerns about long-term effects on the ice, particularly if it persists. An ice shelf in Antarctica nearly the size of Los Angeles disintegrated within days of extraordinary warmth on the continent.

Commentary. One gets the impression that humanity today prefers to deal with momentary problems – the rights of the LGBT community, endless sanctions, “pandemics” (“we will all die!”), “cold” and “hot” conflicts, etc. The fight against global climate change has also become, in fact, another field of economic and political confrontation, in which technologically advanced countries seek to further increase their lead and bind the resources of third world economies to themselves, making them feel “guilty” for environmental pollution.

In fact, we do not really know how our small planet works, what happens in its core, on the ocean floor and in the atmosphere. Such anomalies as described in the article are quite possibly a reminder to all of us from the Creator: stop doing stupid things, move forward, develop knowledge.Otherwise, it will be too late…

We live in a strange world – II

Dr. Sergei Smirnov, expert of Center for maritime transport and spatial logistics

Exactly one year has passed since my first comment on the impact of the new coronavirus infection on human civilization appeared on this site. I have to admit my obvious limitations as an oracle. Like the vast majority of earthlings,

I remembered too well the Hollywood plots when a magic vaccine created by the titanic efforts of WHO and the best scientists beats deadly pandemic, millions of people happily wait for their vaccination and finally, the dawn of a new day rises over the renewed world, which for sure will be better and happier than yesterday.

Reality, however, as usually, turned out to be much more mundane, sad and contradictory. WHO distinguished itself by its helplessness and inconsistency. Until now, they have not been able to even develop a unified methodology for testing and assessing the presence of immunity against COVID-19. By the “titanic” efforts of the pharmaceutical giants, a vaccine appeared, and not single, but a whole dozen. However, the bad virus continues to spread, mutates, masks the symptoms and kills. In general, it behaves like a normal ARVI, a fact that ordinary doctors initially had to clearly understand. Governments, with varying degrees of demonstrated concern (depending on domestic political considerations and the peculiarities of national mentality) continue to tirelessly protect their fellow citizens, gradually depriving them of civil rights and freedoms using high-tech methods. However, all this was quite to be expected.

I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far.

A year ago, I suggested that the pandemic would soon fade away, one way or another, and we would all have to face the many traditional and unconventional security threats again. Like the international terrorist organizations taking advantage of the new reality and start practicing bioterror methods. None of this has happened so far. With the pandemic, everything is clear; it will stay with us for a long time. The emergence of the AUKUS alliance, strange to the point of irrationality, should not be considered a threat to stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is in no way capable of playing the role of “Asian NATO”, its creators put completely different meanings into AUKUS. The terrorists, represented by the Taliban, seem to have succeeded, seizing power in Afghanistan without a fight in August 2021. However, it was not their merit. It happened only because a new president finally appeared in the White House, who was determined to end the absurd, but extremely expensive 20-year messianic adventure in the Middle East.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

Honestly, I was mistaken with the security forecasts. Moreover, if one my mistake was with a “plus” sign, then the second – an unambiguous and big “minus”.

The real threat to peace is emerging in the economic sphere, more precisely, in international trade. Its contours and scale is not yet fully understood, but tectonic shifts may arise if we neglect it. I mean the progressive imbalance in the international logistics system caused not by the pandemic as such, but by the “fight” against it.

The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price.

A year ago, we noted with satisfaction that maritime transport, which accounts for almost 90% of world trade, has passed the test of the first COVID lockouts with relative excellence. Then the world economy began to gradually recover, this process was very uneven in different countries. Since November 2020, a shortage of container capacities began to appear, the planned delivery time of goods was disrupted, the cost of freight increased, etc. We hoped that these were temporary troubles, that the system would restore the normal rhythm of work, let’s just wait a little bit.

A year has passed, and these problems have only worsened. The crisis in logistics led to a creeping rise in prices for foodstuffs, building materials, metal products, timber, natural gas … it is easier to list what did not rise in price. It is important to understand that the volumes of production and transportation have remained practically unchanged. The most complex system of international logistics, under the influence of managerial decisions of state bodies, could not keep in a state of self-regulating stability. It is only unclear whether the “red line” of destructive no return has been already crossed.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market.

The globalized economy seems to have learned how to deal with financial crises. Today we are dealing with a threat of a different nature. I am afraid that the patented recipes of economists – Nobel laureates will not help here. It is necessary to admit the fallacy of many management decisions, to coordinate as far as possible the anti-COVID policies of different countries and international organizations, to wait and pray that the mechanisms of the market economy will help to recover once more.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one.

A special responsibility today lies with China. It is no secret that a number of unpredictable unilateral actions by China aimed to protect against the spread of coronavirus infection within the country have caused the major turbulence in the global logistics market. The No. 2 world economy, firmly determined to become the No. 1, and the main “global factory” cannot afford to isolate itself and make serious decisions without calculating their consequences for the development of external relations. You simply cannot obtain the status of a global superpower without taking responsibility for others. The domestic economic situation in China is rather complicated today. An attempt to reorient towards domestic consumer market to the detriment of foreign economic relations is likely to be doomed to failure.

Fairly, I should note that the collective West bears its share of the blame for the current crisis, and a very significant one. By turning on the cash printing machine and generously appeasing its own population, the West does not solve the problem, but removes it from sight, thereby aggravating the situation with the growing imbalance in global logistics. “Industry 4.0”, “green energy” – all this is great. However, we may not live to see this bright future…

The Dock for Icebreakers Is Sailing Away from the Chinese

June 1, 2021

For more than a year “RosAtomflot” has been trying to find a contractor for the construction of a floating dock, which is necessary for dock repairs of Russian nuclear icebreakers, including the new project 22220 ‘Arktika’ class, and nuclear support & maintenance vessels.

The replayed tender for the construction of a floating dock for nuclear icebreakers again ended with the recognition of only one bid – Turkish “Kyzey Star Shipyard”. The other two applications were rejected, including from China’s “Jiangsu Dajin Heavy Industry Co. LTD”, which last time filed a complaint with the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia (FAS). The Commission acknowledged that the Chinese shipyard “had not yet duly confirmed its experience and the availability of the necessary capacities and human resources”. Lawyers explain that now participants whose applications were rejected have five days to appeal, otherwise a contract with a single supplier could be concluded in June.

For the second time, Turkish “Kyzey Star Shipyard “ remained the only admitted applicant in the tender for the construction of a floating dock for almost 5 billion rubles. As follows from the minutes of the meeting of the Selection Commission, the tender was declared invalid. It was planned to sign a contract with “Kyzey Star Shipyard” in April. However, one of the applicants, the Chinese shipyard “Jiangsu Dajin” filed a complaint which FAS recognized as legal. As a result, “RosAtomflot” had to resume the tender and extend the collection of applications.

The dock must be built within 29 months from the date of signing the contract.    The project expenses will be fully covered by “RosAtomflot” itself.     Dock will have a length not less than 220 m, width – about 48 m, pontoon height – about 6 m, carrying capacity – about 30 thousand tons.    The maximum contract price, including zero VAT, is RUB 4.983 billion (appr. US$ 78 millions).

Russian shipyards, including the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), did not apply for the tender. Sources of “Kommersant” in shipbuilding noted that Russian enterprises estimated the project price 1,5-2 times higher, explaining this by high overhead costs, the lack of a ready design project, high saturation and high metal consumption. In addition, there remained the problem of free capacities, ready to quickly and cheaply build a dock with a length of more than 200 m.

Initially, three applications were submitted for the competition – “Kyzey”, which offered a price of 4.981 billion rubles, the Turkish “Epic Denizcilik ve Gemi Insaat A.S.”, whose bid was 4.45 billion rubles, and “Jiangsu Dajin” for 4.57 billion rubles. “Kyzey” was considered as the main contender for this order. The shipyard is currently completing two LNG-fueled ferries for the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk line.

Following the processing of applications, “Epic Denizcilik” was excluded from tender. Two other bids were returned to “Kyzey” and “Jiangsu Dajin” for clarification. Later, “Jiangsu Dajin” was again denied participation following the re-examination of applications. The Commission refers to the inconsistency of the company’s application with procurement documents related to the confirmation of contracts for ship construction completed in 2018-2021, drawn up in accordance with accounting rules.

Industry sources feared that the need for a new survey of all participants and a complaint to the FAS would lead to a delay in construction. Mr. Vyacheslav Ruksha, deputy head of “Rosatom” and head of the Northern Sea Route Directorate, in an interview with “Kommersant” on December 15, 2020, said that a new dock was needed “exactly by the fall of 2024”.

According to Russian legislature, if several bids submitted for participation in the procurement, but only one admitted to participate, the procurement is declared invalid, but the law allows the possibility of concluding a contract “with a single supplier”.

Source: https://portnews.ru/digest/22471/

Commentary.Situation seems to be a little strange. Obviously, the floating dock is badly needed for servicing nuclear-powered icebreakers, which are the core of Northern Sea Route year-round operations declared as top priority strategic goal for Russia. However, the contract price seems to be inadequately low for serious contenders to join the project. The Turkish company is clearly being pushed forward even if it does not have experience related to nuclear industry (the new dock must have very specific and sensitive equipment to deal with radiation, etc.). There may even be speculations on possible political reasons for this, that Turkey today is a more valuable ally for Russia than China. Sure, it is highly unlikely. Even so, the hidden motives and the conflict of business interests around this controversial deal may impede the progress of Russian Arctic strategy…

China to Build a Railway to Tibet

China has begun construction of a high-speed railway line that will connect the city of Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region with the provincial capital of Sichuan, Chengdu City. The construction cost of the 1,800 km line is estimated at $ 49.4 billion (319 billion RMB), Nikkei Asia reported.

The road will be commissioned in 2030. The price of the railway project exceeds the price of the “Three Gorges Dam” (the gravity dam hydroelectric power station, located on the Yangtze River in Hubei province (China), is the largest power plant in the world in terms of design capacity of 22.5 GW), which cost 250 billion RMB, making the railway line to Tibet the largest construction project in China.

The aim of the project is to stimulate tourism and business travel to Tibet. Local media reports that Beijing is also looking to seize the region’s resources such as copper and lithium.

Currently, the journey by train from Chengdu to Lhasa takes about 40 hours. The transportation over the new direct railway line will be carried out at speed of 120 to 200 km / h, which is expected to reduce travel time to just over 10 hours.

“The railway project is of great importance for maintaining national unity, promoting ethnic unity and strengthening stability in the border areas,” Xi Jinping said.

This railway project is mentioned in China’s five-year plan to 2025 and its long-term goals until 2035. But the construction could face opposition from India, which is in a border confrontation with China. Water from Yarlung Tsangpo River flows to India, and construction works along the river can affect water level and quality downstream.

Source: https://www.rzd-partner.ru/zhd-transport/news/kitay-postroit-zheleznuyu-dorogu-v-tibet/

Comments:

The very fact that China is ready to invest US$ 50 billion to construction of a railway in remote and desolated region is amazing. Obviously, this project will never become commercially profitable. Rather, Beijing demonstrates the eagerness to pursue its strategic interests at any cost, and maintaining full control over rebellious Tibet is probably a worthy goal.

LNG Transshipment Terminal to Be Built in Kamchatka

March 16, 2021

The experts of “Glavgosexpertiza” of Russia studied the re-submitted design and estimate documentation for the construction of a marine liquefied natural gas transshipment complex in the Kamchatka Territory. Based on the results of consideration, positive conclusions were issued this time.

In 2017, the government of the Kamchatka Territory and PJSC “Novatek” signed a cooperation agreement, within the framework of which the construction of  LNG transshipment complex began in the Bechevinskaya Bay on the southeastern coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula, says the “Glavgosexpertiza” report.

It will ensure the transshipment of liquefied natural gas delivered from the northern fields near the Gulf of Ob River by ice-class LNG carriers to LNG carriers without ice reinforcement for further transportation to consumers in the Asia-Pacific region. Upon completion of the full construction cycle, divided into five stages, the terminal’s cargo turnover will reach about 21.7 million tons, and the port infrastructure will be able to process 657 ship calls per year. The design documentation approved by the “Glavgosexpertiza”, subject to the adjustments, envisages the construction, at the expense of NOVATEK’s investments, of roadsteads for two floating gas storage facilities (FGSF), as well as anchorage for FGSF facilities and LNG carriers with anchoring and mooring support.

In addition, at the expense of the federal budget it was envisaged to create an approach channel, a berth for the operation of a navigation safety system, antenna mast structures, container blocks for placing equipment and laser leading beacons. Thus, the commissioning of the first stage facilities involves the allocation of two separate sub-stages. First of all, at stage 1.1 an approach channel with a length of 6.6 km will be introduced, as well as floating signs to fence the channel and the terminal water area. At stage 1.2 it is planned to introduce a berth for servicing shore facilities and navigation safety systems, including aids to navigation and a vessel traffic control system. At the same time, facilities will be commissioned to ensure the transport safety of the water area and the protection of coastal facilities of federal property. In addition, changes were made to the dredging technology and the composition of the mechanisms used.

Source: Korabel.RU

Blagoveshchensk – Heihe Pontoon Bridge Crossing Opens for Chinese Imports Only

March 15, 2021

Since March 15, car traffic will open on the pontoon bridge across the Amur River between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe. Due to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities and caused by epidemiological situation, Russian exports will temporarily not be carried out.

In the import direction, cargo from China to Russia will be limited to engineering equipment, steel structures and other types of similar products intended for the construction of the Amur Gas Processing Plant. The issues of organizing the import of fruits, vegetables and other goods from China will be discussed later.

Source: Pavel Belov, RZhD Partner

Comments:

Cross-border trade between China and Russian Far Eastern territories looks more and more like a one-way street. Its turnover volumes have never been large enough. Today, with heavy decline in cargo turnover via the “Primorye-I” and “Primorye-II” international transport corridors, termination of Russian fish exports to Chinese seaports and other ‘anti-COVID’ protective measures unilaterally taken by PRC the future prospects of bilateral cross-border trade look pessimistic, at least for Russian side. This trade is important for the well-being of Russians living in the Far-Eastern territories, especially the supply of vegetables, fruits and consumer goods. If the confidence in the stability of the Chinese deliveries is lost Russian importers would have to shift to ASEAN and other reliable suppliers.

Sections of the Future Coal Terminal Included in the Boundaries of Dikson Seaport

February 24, 2021

By order of the Government of Russia dated January 22, 2021 No. 109-r, the boundaries of the Dikson seaport have been adjusted. This was reported by the press service of FSUE “Rosmorport”.

The adjustments are related to the inclusion in its boundaries of one water plot and one land plot located in the Yenisei Bayand intended for positioning the offshore coal terminal facilities. It is a part of the development of the Syradasai coal deposit in the Taimyr Dolgano-Nenetsky district of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.

The explored reserves of the Syradasay deposit amount to almost 5.7 billion tons of coal of grades G (gas), Zh (fatty), K (coke) and OS (lean-caking). The deposit has one of the largest reserves of valuable coking coal.

The coal mined at the field will be transported by industrial railway to a new coal terminal in Dikson seaport, from where it will be exported to the countries of Southeast Asia along the Northern Sea Route.

At the first stage of development of the coal terminal project the planned volume of cargo transshipment will be 5 million tons per year, and within the next 3-4 years it should double. The length of the quay wall of the coal terminal will be 500 meters, and the depth at the cordon of the quay wall – up to 15.5 meters which will allow to proceed vessels of large gross tonnage.

Source: “ROSMORPORT”

Chukotka Has Increased Coal Production by 27% in 2021

February 24, 2021

94 thousand tons of lignite and hard coal were produced in January in the territory of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. In comparison with the same period in 2020, coal shipments increased by 27%.

According to the information of the regional department of industry, the significant growth was provided by the OJSC “Ugolnaya mine” (Anadyr). In the first month of the year, the company extracted 36.7 thousand tons at the Anadyr brown coal deposit, while last year in January it had shipped only 1 thousand tons. The increase in the result is due to the conclusion of an agreement for the supply of coal with the Egvekinot power plant and the communal services of Anadyr region.

At the same time, the second coal company in the region – “Beringpromugol” LLC (part of “Tiger Realm Coal Ltd”) reduced production in January by 20%, to 57.3 thousand tons. The company is extracting the coking coal at the Fandyushkinskoye field.

In 2021 the coal mine “Ugolnaya” plans to produce at least 100 thousand tons of coal while “Beringpromugol”’s plan for 2021 stands for 760 thousand tons.

Source: NEDRADV

Cargo Turnover at Russian Seaports Decreased by 7.8%

February 10, 2021

The turnover of the seaports of Russia in January 2021 amounted to 63.35 million tons, which is 7.8% less than the same period last year, the press service of “Rosmorrechflot” reports.

The volume of transshipment of dry cargo amounted to 30.05 million tons (+ 4.7%), liquid cargo – 33.3 million tons (-16.7%).

It is noted that a significant decrease in transshipment indicators, primarily for liquid cargo, is associated, among other things, with a long streak of storms in the Black Sea, which suspended the traffic flow and the operation of port facilities. In particular, the idle period for Novorossiysk seaport was almost three weeks. As a result, the volume of transshipment in the port compared to January 2020 fell by 22.9% – to 9.968 million tons.

The cargo turnover of the seaports of the Azov-Black Sea basin in January decreased by 15.9% – to 17.33 million tons. At the same time, the volume of dry cargo transshipment increased by 7.7%, amounting to 8.0 million tons, liquid cargo decreased by 29.3% – to 9.33 million tons.

The cargo turnover of the seaports of the Arctic basin decreased by 12.2% – to 7.59 million tons, of which the volume of dry cargo transshipment amounted to 1.99 million tons (-17.8%), liquid cargo – 5.6 million tons (-10,1 %).

The cargo turnover of the seaports of the Baltic basin decreased by 5.1% – to 21.05 million tons. Of these, the volume of dry cargo transshipment amounted to 9.44 million tons (+ 8.4%), liquid cargo – 11.61 million tons (-13.8%).

The cargo turnover of the seaports of the Caspian basin decreased by 10.7% – to 0.65 million tons. Of these, the volume of dry cargo transshipment amounted to 0.24 million tons (-21.5%), liquid cargo – 0.41 million tons (-3.0%). The largest seaport of the basin, Makhachkala, did not work for a week due to weather conditions in January.

The cargo turnover of the ports of the Far Eastern basin increased by 1.3% and reached 16.73 million tons. Of these, the volume of dry cargo transshipment amounted to 10.38 million tons (+ 5.5%), liquid cargo – 6.35 million tons (-4.9%).

Source: “PortNews”, https://portnews.ru/news/308692/

The flag Was Raised on the First Russian-Built Processor Trawler “Barents Sea”

February 5, 2021

On February 4, the ceremony of raising the state flag of the Russian Federation took place on the trawler ‘Barents Sea’ (project KMT01). The first domestically built large-capacity trawler-processor was completed at the Vyborg shipyard in the Leningrad region.

Trawler-processor “Barents Sea” was handed over to the Customer by shipbuilders of Vyborg in September 2020. The vessel was built within the framework of the state program of “investment quotas”, which provides for the allocation of additional quotas for catching biological resources to companies building vessels at the shipyards of the Russian Federation.

The vessel is equipped with a factory for full cycle processing and freezing and the latest trawl complex. The trawler uses a number of the latest solutions that increase the efficiency of the vessel in the fishery, for example, an integrated system of variable frequency of the internal power grid, which ensures fuel savings during crossings, as well as equipment that allows using a computer to sort frozen products by type and form pallets that will be transported from the hold to the upper deck of the trawler through the elevator shaft, from where they will be unloaded ashore, double reducing the time for unloading products from the ship.

Source: https://sdelanounas.ru/blogs/139266/