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Who will pay the bridge through Lena?

The next step brings the long-awaited construction for the largest Russian region, which has been repeatedly postponed

Who will pay the bridge through Lena?

On Friday, the Chinese state corporation Sinohydro Corporation Limited and the Consulting Agency Project Management Agency signed an agreement on the provision of financial consulting services within the framework of the project for the construction of a bridge across the Lena in the Yakutsk region, providing for the development of its financial model. The next step brings the long-awaited construction project for the largest Russian region closer, which has been postponed more than once. EastRussia finds out what will happen to the bridge over Lena.

In the development of the topic, we note that the approximate course of the bridge project is already known today: the project will be developed in 2017, the bridge will be built in 2018, and put into operation in 2022. 

The Russian company Project Management Institute (PMI) is currently preparing a financial model of the project. It will be completely ready by the end of this autumn. Moreover, it should be noted that its development was somewhat delayed - as it was assumed that the company PMI will present a ready financial model of the project on the site of the Second Eastern Economic Forum. But this slowdown has its own reasons - the final financial model is complicated now by the fact that the project currently does not have design estimates, and the corresponding survey work was not carried out for it. 

Currently, the project is of great interest at once in two Chinese state corporations - with one Chinese state corporation, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Memorandum has already been signed, on the other, China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) is the parent company of China Railway Corporation 18 bureau ”, negotiations are underway on its financial participation in the project. 

Learn more about the main benefits. First of all, thanks to the commissioning of the bridge, which will provide a year-round connection between the two banks of the Lena River and connect Yakutsk with the railway, the annual volume of freight traffic in the region will triple, amounting to 6 million tons. Moreover, the emergence of the bridge means certain prospects for transit cargo flows - among others, it suggests the possibility of using it for the transportation of transit goods intended mainly for the Magadan Region, Chukotka and the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Thus, with the emergence of an opportunity to use the scheme for the delivery of transit goods through the Yakutsk transport hub, the volume of transit freight traffic through Yakutia may reach 576 thousand tons. Secondly, not much, but the volume of northern deliveries in the Republic will decrease - due to the fact that a number of northern regions will become transport accessible. Not much, because, in the end, only 20% of the current 60% of the territories of Yakutia that are inaccessible in winter will be accessible. Thirdly, the bridge will serve as a powerful impetus for the development of a number of ore gold deposits in Yakutia - "Zadezhinsky", "Duetsky", "Taborny", as well as placer deposits - "Nizhnyaya Dzhemigda", "Tikhaya-Vidny" and many, which are part of the technological gold placer in South Yakutia. In addition, the introduction of the bridge will increase the efficiency of many industries located in the immediate or relative proximity to it. At the same time, thanks to the functioning of the bridge, there will be appropriate conditions for new competitive industries in the field of ferrous metallurgy, oil and timber processing, as well as the production of mineral fertilizers. In turn, as a result of the emergence of all these industries, the construction materials industry will also develop in the republic. At the same time, the functioning of the bridge will entail a decrease in the cost of the consumer basket by 15-20%.

A bit of history
The issue of building a bridge across the Lena in the Yakutsk region has been worked out since the early 1980s. At that time, options were being considered for laying the bridge in three sections: 38 kilometers above Yakutsk and below it - 28 and 45 kilometers. The first option was chosen, the advantages of which will be discussed below. Then, in 1986, the first feasibility study for the project was presented. After that, various construction options and technical solutions were considered in the project of the bridge, and as a result, the following scheme was chosen: (2x154) + 4x308 + 5x (2x154) m, with a total length of 3180 meters. With this scheme, the deepest part of the river channel is blocked by four metal arched spans 308 meters long each, with ties in the form of a through truss with a triangular lattice. The arches, 55 meters high, are united by a system of longitudinal and transverse ties, as well as by the cross beams of the railway passage and the orthotropic plate of the road train. In addition, bridge supports with an inclined to the horizon and a rounded ice-cutting edge contribute to better passage of ice drift, breakage of ice floes, reduce jamming and arcing.

In 2008, just such a project received a positive opinion from the Glavgosexpertiza of Russia. Its cost at that time was 124 billion rubles. But the attempt to follow the path of its state financing was not crowned with success - the state did not find money for it then. After that, in April 2013, Dmitry Medvedev issued an order to build a bridge on a concession basis. The state, acting as its participant, was ready to invest more than 40,2 billion rubles in the construction of the bridge (in prices of the first quarter of 2013), including 15,5 billion in 2016, another 7,6 billion and a little more than 9 billion - in the next two years and 8 billion rubles in 2019. The rest of the costs - at least 20% - the concessionaire had to find on his own, at the expense of his own or borrowed funds. Then - in 2014 - it seemed that the construction of the Yakutsk bridge was already a resolved issue. But reunification with Crimea changed plans, the state had a more priority bridge at that time. 

Official Yakutsk continues to search for options for implementing the project. Among the options for financing, even a pledge of a part of ALROSA shares was considered. But, since this proposal did not meet with a response from the Russian Government, the authorities of Yakutia began to look for investors abroad. During 2015, the project was presented at the site of the First Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Second Russian-Chinese EXPO in Harbin (PRC) and the 7th session of the China Foreign Investment Fair. At the same time, the Government of Yakutia, together with Rosavtodor, held a number of negotiations with potential investors from the PRC.

The first result took place at the end of 2015 - on December 3, within the framework of Transport Week in Moscow, a memorandum of intent was signed on the implementation of the project for the construction of a bridge between Rosavtodor and Sinogidro. The visit of Sinogidro representatives to Yakutsk to further discuss the implementation of the project and hold a number of meetings with stakeholders took place from March 14 to 17, 2016. On June 24, 2016, within the framework of the Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation in Beijing, the project to build a bridge across the Lena River was included in the List of joint Russian-Chinese investment projects. Then, in July, Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Yegor Borisov's proposal to attract Chinese investors on a concession basis to the construction of the bridge. 

Some technical details
The bridge crossing will pass through the Lena in the Tabaginsky section, located in the area of ​​the Tabaginsky cape, 38 km upstream of the Lena River from the city of Yakutsk. Tabaginsky cape, in turn, is located 2 km south of the village of Tabaga, in this place the width of the Lena River in its middle reaches is relatively small - up to 7 km, due to which the cape was chosen for the construction of a road-rail crossing. Thus, the route of the bridge crossing in the Tabaginsky section is with. Tabaga - s. Haptagay. If we talk about the strike of all the objects included in the bridge complex, then, as already mentioned, its starting point is the junction with the federal highway M-56 “Lena”. The end point of the complex is the junction with the regional highway “Umnas” Yakutsk - Olekminsk. There are no bridges and hydraulic structures on the proposed construction site of the bridge crossing, and it is possible to get from one bank to the other only by ships, ferries or by winter road. As for the parameters of the bridge complex itself, according to the order of the Government issued in April 2013, its total length is 21,2 km, of which the length of the road bridge is 3,2 km, the length of road approaches to it is 18 km. At the same time, the project implementation period is 14 years, including design and construction - 6 years, operation - 8 years.

According to hydrological studies, the speed of the Lena from the village of Pokrovsk to Yakutsk (including it) - that is, including in the area of ​​the Tabaginsky section, does not exceed 1,3 m / s, and for the most part even drops to 0,5-0,7, 10 m / s. At the same time, the depth of the Lena River in the middle reaches, which includes the Tabaginsky section, is 12-500 meters. Engineering and geological surveys, in turn, showed that almost the entire Leno-Indigirsky region, including the territory of the planned construction, belongs to a continuous frozen zone. Moreover, in a significant part of the region, the permafrost thickness exceeds 320 m, and the standard freezing depth in the floodplain is from 470 cm to 7 cm. The channel sediments are represented by various-grained sands and pebbles, below which fine-grained sandstones with interlayers of sandy siltstones and, in some cases, coal, lie. The seismicity of the construction site is 1953 points. The observations, which were conducted from 2006 to 250, showed that the estimated thickness of the river ice of the Lena section, over which the bridge is supposed to be built, is 90 cm. One of the characteristic features of the opening of this section of the river is the formation of powerful jams. The length of the mash ice accumulation in the area of ​​this section and on both sides of it can reach 65 km. At the same time, the climate of the territory where the Tabaginsky section is located is characterized by a sharp continentality. In winter, the air temperature here reaches -35 ° C, in summer + XNUMX ° C.

At the same time, the location of the bridge in the Tabaginsky section is not approved by everyone today. There are opinions according to which, with this location of the bridge, at least half of the year - all winter - it will not be very convenient for people to use it, since it takes about an hour to get from Yakutsk to the village of Tabaka. In this case, it is much faster to cross the ice directly. The Agency for Investment Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), in turn, explained to the EastRussia correspondent that the decision to build a bridge across the Tabaginsky Cape is due to the fact that the Tabaginsky section is the most suitable for the construction of a bridge in engineering and geological terms of the three options considered: Kangalassky, Zhataysky and Tabaginsky. The Tabaginsky option is preferable both in terms of the length of the bridge crossing (it is the smallest here) and due to the presence of natural protection of the left-bank approach to the bridge crossing. At the same time, the option of construction over the Tabaginsky section is more optimal than others because, given the high load in the future of the bridge by freight transport, it is not entirely advisable to organize the movement of passing vehicles through the city.

Will invest and the state
Despite the fact that the financial model of the project is not yet ready, in the State Budgetary Institution "Agency for Investment Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)" the scheme of its financing of the EastRussia edition was still a little highlighted, and also explained why the final cost of the project is still unknown. “The fact is that the previously developed model of the project is currently being updated in accordance with the modern, somewhat changed recently, the Russian economy, including with the new prices present on its market. That is, in many respects it is being recalculated. But as for how the project will be financed by the state, now it is absolutely possible to say that it is federal and will be included in the new Federal Target Program "Development of the transport system of Russia", which will be adopted by 2020 - in its subprogram "Roads". Accordingly, until 2020, fundraising from the federal budget is not expected - the mechanisms of the concession agreement will be used to finance the project. At the same time, the initiator of the project for the construction of the Yakutsk-Nizhny Bestyakh bridge is none other than Rosavtodor. As for the financial presence of the region in the project, no participation of the regional budget in the project is expected. In turn, Shinohydro will return its investments in the project not at the expense of future tolls on the bridge, but by receiving other income from it and indirectly related to its functioning income. Since, according to the law on concessions, the bridge that will run across the Lena will be a priori free. Despite this fact, Shinohydro's interest in him is quite understandable, since by investing in it, she at the same time acquires the opportunity to use her other resources and competencies in it. And also because, by investing in the Yakutsk-Nizhny Bestyakh bridge, this State Corporation thereby participates in the implementation of a project that is unique in every sense, "the EastRussia correspondent was informed at the State Budgetary Institution" Investment Development Agency of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) ".

The Ministry of Transport of Russia, at the same time, did not guarantee the inclusion of the project in the new Federal Program "Development of the Transport System of Russia", but noted that such a probability exists.

Thus, it is not yet clear how exactly Shinohydro will return the money invested in the bridge. The Agency for Investment Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is not concerned about possible risks, noting that “the advantages of this project are obvious, and protection from risks will need to be provided with the terms of the concession agreement and other documents in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, as well as careful control over the fulfillment of obligations by the parties ”. The Chinese have options - the company, for example, can develop any trade in the immediate vicinity of the bridge, counting on the relatively well-off population of Yakutsk compared to the inhabitants of the main territory of Yakutia. Or, for example, create your own operator for the transportation of goods along it.

In general, so far experts see one benefit for the Chinese company from participating in the bridge project. “It should be borne in mind that the leadership of the PRC and the state corporation are guided by the idea of ​​allocating overly accumulated capacities in China, including labor resources, in order to avoid the risks of social tension. Now focused on solving the problem with its labor resources, the PRC is looking for investment projects all over the world, including complex jurisdictions on the African continent, so Russian risks for Chinese companies are not the greatest. At the same time, Chinese state corporations usually co-finance only under the condition that Chinese workers and Chinese companies - design, engineering, etc., are involved in the construction sites envisaged by these projects. And also provided that Chinese technologies are used in construction. Moreover, in the case of Russia, one can say even more - that investing in any of its projects by China, in fact, means that the project will be almost entirely Chinese - because within the framework of it, finances will be provided by a Chinese bank to a Chinese contractor, which, in turn, will a significant part of this will be spent on salaries for Chinese workers, ”said Oleg Khokhlov, Partner at the Goltsblat BLP LLP Law Firm.

He added that at the same time one of the key risks that China faces when investing in the Yakutsk-Nizhny Bestyah bridge construction project is currency risks, given the volatility of both the ruble and the yuan. Especially, given that there is a long-term return on investment.

It does not shine
The Agency for Investment Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) at the same time noted that the possibility of participation in the project of investors from other countries will be accurately determined after the signing of the concession agreement. But theoretically, the creation of a multinational consortium of investors within the framework of the project is possible, however, unlikely, since in practice this type of cooperation is rare. And to the question of whether proposals were made to invest in the project for businesses implementing projects in the territory of Yakutia, EastRussia correspondent was told that for implementation of infrastructure projects due to their specific features and scale, an anchor investor with special competencies and resources, including financial ones, is needed. From which follows the conclusion that the business operating in the territory of Yakutia, as potential investors of the project was not considered.

The community of Russian railroad builders is somewhat skeptical about the "Chinese" construction of transport facilities in Russia. "Of all the factors that can affect the implementation of the project, I would single out those solutions that will form the basis of the design and working documentation. Most likely, they can be quite peculiar, since Chinese designers and engineers have their own ideas about design. We can safely say that , a project designed by a Chinese company will be more expensive than if it were carried out by a company with experience in construction in the region. But, at the same time, it will certainly be reliable. A kind of "piece of granite", - said President of the Union of Railway Builders Gennady Talashkin ...

In his opinion, in principle, attracting Chinese companies to Russia not only as a source of financing, but also as builders is not an unambiguous prospect. For the simple reason that Russia has its own construction organizations, which are quite capable of building on its territory "their" - in the full sense of the word - transport facilities - in particular, to design them based on the practice in Russia, including its permafrost zones and the low temperatures that they already have. “China is now interested not only in the construction of transport facilities in the Far East, but, for example, in Western Siberia, which is practically the same difficult region for construction. Moreover, in order to cope with construction in such difficult conditions, he involves many of his structures in the work. Therefore, of course, there are no doubts about the successful creation of transport facilities by China on the territory of Russian macroregions with difficult physical and geographical conditions, despite the fact that they are unusual for them. Maybe he can even create them faster than if Russian companies were engaged in them. Here the question is different - how profitable is the construction of transport facilities on Russian territory by China for the Russian economy? If we talk about the Far East, Russia is now facing the goal of developing this region, and not Chinese business on its territory. After all, the fact that he is engaged in certain projects in Russia means in fact that later he himself will earn on them, returning the funds invested in them in a much larger amount, "- noted the correspondent of EastRussia Gennady Talashkin.

In addition, he pointed out that the conduct of China's construction of transport facilities in Russia is advisable unless politically. Because it makes sense to involve him only while creating joint ventures with him. To ensure that its companies perceived the Russian experience and practice of such construction. And, accordingly, so that Russia, in turn, takes over from them all sorts of new technological opportunities - in order to develop its own construction complex. 

Meanwhile, the Agency for Investment Development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) believes that the attraction of Chinese technologies will positively affect the cost of the bridge, but note that, like any construction project in Russia, the bridge project will necessarily pass state expertise. And, as for the Chinese companies with whom they are negotiating, they have a lot of experience in bridge construction, including in difficult conditions. But, at the same time, the experience of Russian specialists and their experience in construction in the conditions of permafrost and extremely low temperatures will be taken into account when designing and building a bridge across the Lena.

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