Russia already has 40 icebreakers opening up new shipping lanes in the Arctic. (By comparison, the United States has just two.)
Now it’s adding 15 more at a cost of $320 million apiece. That’s nearly $5 billion just to extend Russia’s lead in the developing “Eighth Continent <mail.angelnexus.com/t/c/a24130b03abcb8a3d82d3c98bb2-1796cdf2d3527651d1b287b831e>.”
But as far as Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerned, the investment is well worth it.
“This is perhaps the largest step forward in our developing of the Arctic,” Putin said in December “Now we can safely say that Russia will expand through the Arctic this and next century. This is where the largest mineral reserves are located. This is the site of a future transport artery that I am sure will be very good and efficient: the Northern Sea Route.”
Indeed, Russia has long been eying Arctic riches.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 30% of the world’s untapped gas reserves (108 trillion cubic feet), 13% of its oil reserves (about 90 billion barrels), and $1 trillion in minerals rest in the Arctic region.
And Russia has the strongest claim.
The plurality (nearly half) of the Arctic’s four million inhabitants live in the Russian Arctic, with the largest communities located in Murmansk and Norilsk.
The Russian half of the Arctic is also becoming passable much more quickly than the U.S.-Canadian side. Temperatures even reached 90 degrees in northern Siberia earlier this year.
This has given Russia first crack at Arctic development. It’s reopened abandoned Soviet-era military installations and begun building new ones. It’s added seaports and airfields. And its ships dominate the waters.
Fully two-thirds of the ships passing through the Northern Sea Route fly the Russian flag. Virtually all of them are transporting resources. And last year, the Northern Sea Route Administration (NSRA) issued 662 permissions to vessels for navigation along the NSR, with just 107 going to non-Russian vessels.
Now, Moscow aims to further extend its dominance.
Russia’s new tankers will transport liquefied natural gas from Yamal LNG — a $27 billion gas plant 375 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
In the winter, there’s zero sun for more than two months. Temperatures reach -13 degrees on land and -58 degrees at sea. However, the harsh hellscape also houses 44 trillion cubic feet of gas. Collectively, the 15 new icebreakers will carry 16.5 million tons of LNG a year — enough to supply half of South Korea’s annual consumption. They’ll travel west to Europe in the winter and east to Asia in the summer, moving through ice that’s up to seven feet thick. They are the widest gas carriers ever built, and each carries the same volume as about 1 million barrels of oil.
The first tanker began operating in December. It was the first vessel to sail the NSR from Siberia to the Bering Strait, setting a time to beat of 6.5 days.
Meanwhile, Russia’s state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, is already drilling the northernmost rig in the Russian Arctic shelf, while Gazprom Neft pumps Arctic oil from the Pechora Sea.
Russia isn’t alone, of course. That’s what makes this a competition (albeit one Russia is handily winning).
Seven other countries have stakes in the Arctic region. Those are Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and the U.S. And China is using its economic might to intrude, as well.
It only makes sense.
The Arctic is the last untapped resource reserve on the planet. There are plenty of areas of opportunity — and all of them are massive.
For example, one region in north British Columbia, east of Alaska, is now known as the “Golden Triangle.”
It contains an estimated 130 million ounces of gold, 20 million tons of copper, and 800 million ounces of silver.
All told, that’s a $2 TRILLION windfall.
In Alaska, there’s another site called the Pebble deposit. It holds 107 million ounces of gold.
Combine these two areas, and you have more gold than has EVER been mined in all of human history.
And that’s one of the few plays Russia can’t reach — though investors can.
Indeed, our own Nick Hodge has found a small mining company that owns not just one but 12(!) of the Arctic’s richest sites. Two of them are located directly inside the “Golden Triangle.”
It’s a huge find and the potential returns are more than promising.
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