The impact of the development of resources of the Eastern Arctic on energy and fuel supply to consumers

Head of the scientific direction «Complex
problems of energy and regional energy policy»,
head of department, Doctor of Technical Sciences,
Institute of Energy Systems named after V.I.
L.A. Melent’ev SB RAS

Head of the Laboratory, Ph.D., Institute of Energy
Systems named after V.I. L.A. Melent’ev SB RAS

Leading Specialist in Fuel and Energy Complex,
Institute of Energy Systems named after

V.I. L.A.
Melent’ev SB RAS

Senior Researcher, Ph.D., Institute of Energy Systems
named after V.I. L.A. Melent’ev SB RAS


The Eastern Arctic region includes the Arctic regions of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, where three benchmark zones have been identified according to the state program of social-and-economic development: Taimyr-Turukhansk, North-Yakutsk and Chukotka [1]. At present, the total capacity of power plants in the Eastern Arctic, taking into account the latest changes in the structure of generation, is about 3100 MW [2].
Electricity production is estimated at 10 bln kWh, of which more than 90% falls on the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone.
In this territory, centralized power supply is represented by five isolated operating power districts: two in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, three in the Chukotka, which is associated with historical industrial and economic development [2]. On the territory of the North Yakutsk zone, power supply to consumers is performed from autonomous power sources. Energy isolation is due to the remoteness and lack of the necessary transport infrastructure.

The current state of energy and fuel supply

More than 80% of the total capacity of power plants in the Eastern Arctic operates in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, the bulk of which is under the jurisdiction of JSC Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company. A specific feature of the Norilsk-Taimyr energy region is a large share of the installed capacity of HPPs (more than 40% of the total installed capacity of power plants in the energy region). In the structure of the capacity of autonomous power plants, a significant share is occupied by RN-Vankor and Vankorneft gas turbine units engaged in the development of fields in the Vankor cluster.
The Vankor Energy District has electrical connections with the Northern Energy District of the Tyumen Energy System.
In the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, natural gas from the Pelyatkinskoye gas condensate field is used for three CHPPs of the Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company. In the Taimyr Dolgano-Nenets and Turukhansk regions, heat is supplied to small settlements by burning coal in boiler units: stone coal from the Kayerkanskoye and Minusinskoye deposits, brown coal – from the Borodinskoye and Khatangskoye deposits.
In the structure of the capacity of power plants in the North-Yakutsk zone, 80% is occupied by Sakhaenergo communal power plants. The relatively large power plants of the Yakutsk Generating Company operate at the enterprises for the development of the Verkhnyaya Muna and Ebelyakh diamond deposits. In the North Yakutsk zone, diesel fuel is predominant, oil is used in small quantities for power supply, in boiler houses and the Deputatskaya CHPP – coal from the Dzhebariki-Khaiskiy and Zyryanskiy deposits.
On the territory of the Chukotka zone, the total capacity of the Chukotenergo power plants and the branch of the Rosenergoatom concern, taking into account the output in 2019 of one unit at the Bilibino NPP and the commissioning of the Akademik Lomonosov Floating Nuclear Power Plant, is 238 MW. Centralized power supply is provided in three isolated power centres: Anadyr, Egvekinot and Chaun-Bilibin. Among the autonomous power plants, the bulk of the capacity falls on the Chukotka Mining and Geological Company, which is part of the Kinross Gold corporation group of companies, which develops the Kupol gold deposit.

Fig. 1. The structure of fuel consumption by energy facilities

In the Chukotka zone, Anadyr CHPPs use natural gas as fuel, Egvekinotskaya CTTP uses Anadyr brown coal, Chaunskaya TPP uses Zyryanskiy bituminous coal, and various coals are burned in boiler units. In addition, in the Chukotka zone, nuclear fuel is used at the Bilibino NPP and the Floating Nuclear Power Plant Akademik Lomonosov, which was put into operation at the end of 2019.
Based on the analysis of the statistical reporting forms of Rosstat and data from energy supplying organizations, the volumes of consumption by type of fuel and categories of energy sources in the territory of the Eastern Arctic are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Fuel consumption by energy facilities, f.eq. thousand t
Source: compiled according to Rosstat forms 6-TP “Information on the production of heat and electricity by generating facilities (power plants)” and 4-TER “Information on the use of fuel and energy resources” for 2019, taking into account the data of companies and the authors’ expert assessments

The Taimyr-Turukhansk and Chukotka zones account for 90% of the fuel consumed in the power industry (Fig. 1). Herewith, in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, 97% of the fuel is consumed at power plants, in the Chukotka – 88%. In the North Yakutsk zone, communal consumers prevail, therefore more than 60% of the fuel is used in boiler houses.
The structure of fuel consumption by type in the eastern Arctic zones is different. In the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, 97% of the consumed fuel is natural gas, while about 75% is coal and diesel fuel in the North-Yakutsk, as well as the largest share in the Chukotka zone is nuclear fuel (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. The structure of fuel consumption by types of energy facilities

The main challenge in fuel supply to consumers in the Eastern Arctic and, first of all, to life support facilities is a complex transport scheme.
The problem of fuel delivery is especially important for the North Yakutsk and Chukotka zones, in which the share of fuel requiring long-distance transportation is 72 and 75%, respectively (Fig. 3.). Diesel fuel is imported to the Arctic regions in full, as well as nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants located in the Chukotka zone. Oil, gas condensate and wood fuel are consumed, as a rule, in the area of production (harvesting).

Fig. 3. The volume and structure of fuel consumption for which long-distance transportation is required

The situation with meeting the demand for coal is different. Coal is mainly mined within the Arctic zones, in which it is consumed.
The exception is the Yakut coals, which are historically supplied to the Arctic zone from the southern regions of the republic and herewith from the North Yakutsk zone to the Chukotka zone. As a result, significant volumes of coal require long-distance transportation. Despite the fact that transportation is performed mainly within one constituent entity of the Russian Federation, the complexity and laboriousness of delivery requires special mention. The share of coal in the fuel basket of energy facilities is significant in the North Yakutsk and Chukotka zones: 41 and 34%, respectively (Fig. 4). Herewith, more than 90% of the coal consumed in the North Yakutsk zone, and about half of the coal consumed in the Chukotka zone, require long-distance transportation.
The average energy density of fuel requiring long-distance transportation is 0.717 f.eq. t for the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, for the North Yakutsk zone – 1.037, for the Chukotka zone – 1.806. The low value of the indicator for the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone is explained by the predominance of gas in the fuel structure, which does not require long-distance transport. The maximum value of the indicator in the Chukotka zone is due to the high proportion of nuclear fuel in the fuel basket.

Fig. 4. Coal consumption volume and structure

The need for electricity only for priority projects with a high degree of exploration of mineral reserves recorded in the state balance sheet, the availability of licenses for the development of deposits and feasibility studies, business plans or design and technical documentation for investors is estimated at 6 bln kWh [3]. Taking into account the promising field development projects that have developed in recent years, the power consumption of the eastern Arctic regions, according to the authors’ estimates, may more than double. Among these projects are the development of the Popigayskoye impact diamond deposit, the Payakhskoye and West-Anabarskoye oil fields, the Syradasayskoye coal deposit, and the Prognoz silver deposit [4–10].

Prospects for energy and fuel supply with large-scale development of mineral resources

In the program documents of the federal level, defining the goals, strategic priorities and main tasks of state policy in the Arctic, many projects for the development of mineral resources are identified as priorities.
Taking into account these additional projects, not indicated in the assessment of energy demand given in [3], the increase in electricity consumption in the Eastern Arctic is estimated by the authors at 13.7 bln kWh/year, of which more than 70% falls to the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone (table 2). Herewith, the increase in the demand for electricity in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone is commensurate, in the Notrh-Yakutsk zone – 5.8 times, in the Chukotka – 3.3 times in comparison with the current values of the electricity generation indicators of the corresponding zones.

Table 2. Estimated demand for electricity and capacity of promising projects for the development of mineral resources

Table 2 shows the need for electric power, determined by the authors, depending on the location of the project, the availability of transport routes, assessments of the comparative efficiency of centralized and autonomous power supply, and the use of various types of fuel. More than 80% of the demand for electric power in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone and about 55% of the North Yakutsk zone is accounted for by thermal power plants of promising oil and gas producing enterprises, as well as coal mining enterprises, that is, those provided with their own fuel resources. On the territory of the Chukotka zone, in contrast to the other two, 70% of the demand for the capacity of promising enterprises is supposed to be provided through the development of centralized power supply in the Chaun-Bilibino energy centre through the construction of new power plants and the development of the power grid infrastructure.
Herewith, the magnitude of such a capacity in the Chukotka zone is comparable to the magnitude of such a capacity in the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone. However, the development of generation on the territory of the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone is provided with local fuel resources (mainly natural gas), and on the territory of the Chukotka zone, generation will be provided with nuclear fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG), which requires long-distance transportation.
The use of liquefied natural gas as an alternative to diesel fuel and the likely development of nuclear generation in the Chaun-Bilibino power centre of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is one of the possible directions for diversifying fuel sources in the regions of the Eastern Arctic.
When creating infrastructure for the transportation and storage of liquefied natural gas in the Eastern Arctic, it is economically feasible to use LNG instead of diesel fuel at autonomous power plants for enterprises producing mineral resources in the North Yakutsk zone, as well as at the Popigayskoye and Pyrkakayskie stockwork fields. The total LNG demand for these power plants is estimated at 360–380 thousand f.eq. t.

Fig. 5. Fuel demand of promising enterprises for the development of mineral resources, thousand f.eq. t

The total demand for fuel for power supply of promising enterprises for the development of mineral resources in the eastern Arctic sector of the Russian Federation is estimated by the authors at 5.1–5.6 f.eq. mln t (table 3, Fig. 5). Half of the demand will be provided by associated gas from the oil fields and the oil and gas fields.

Table 3. Fuel demand of promising enterprises for the development of mineral resources, thousand f.eq. t

In the total fuel consumption of new energy sources, considering the possible use of LNG, about 71% (3594 thousand f.eq. t) falls on the Taimyr-Turukhan Arctic zone, 11% (567 thousand f.eq. t) – the North-Yakutsk zone and 18% (915 thousand t f.eq.) – to the Chukotka zone. The share of LNG can reach 20%.
In the Taimyr-Turukhansk zone, to supply energy to promising enterprises for the development of oil and gas fields, it is planned to build a TPP using associated oil gas (APG) as fuel.
The share of APG in this zone is 82% of the total fuel consumption of promising energy sources.
Large energy sources using associated oil gas also prevail in the North Yakutsk zone. The share of APG reaches 61% of the total fuel demand of new energy sources in this zone. No coal is intended to be used here. The oil is supposed to be used only in the North Yakutsk Arctic zone to supply power to the diamond mining project at the Verkhne-Munskoye field. In terms of economic indicators, oil can serve as an attractive alternative to diesel fuel, the limitation in the case of its use is the capacity range of equipment for oil and its significant capital intensity.

Table 4. Prospective fuel demand, thousand f.eq. t

The Chukotka zone is also characterized by the predominance of gas (up to 58%) in the structure of the demand for fuel from new energy sources. This is due to the prevalence of gold, tin, copper deposits located far from fuel bases and deposits, with the exception of coal mining in the Bering coal basin in the Anadyr region.
Thus, when implementing promising projects in the Eastern Arctic, a significant amount of fuel and energy resources will be required, and taking into account the existing fuel consumption for energy supply, the volume of fuel consumption may amount to more than 9 f.eq. mln t.
The total increase for all types of fuel is estimated at more than 2 times (Table 4).


Large-scale development of the mineral resources of the Eastern Arctic will entail a significant increase in the demand for electricity and power in this area. The total increase in power consumption of promising projects is estimated at 13.7 bln kWh/year, which exceeds the current level by 1.3 times.
The fuel demand for new generating capacities at resource development enterprises is estimated at 5–5.6 f.eq. mln t, of which about 60% falls on projects for the extraction of fuel resources: oil, gas, coal. The rest of the increase in fuel consumption will be provided by imported resources, which will significantly increase the load on the transport system. Taking into account the complex multi-link and seasonal fuel logistics to the regions of the Eastern Arctic, the state of year-round roads and winter roads, the transport infrastructure can become a barrier to the large-scale development of mineral resources.
In this connection, a state program for the development of transport and energy infrastructure in the Arctic regions of Russia is needed, without which the reality of the economic development of the Arctic is called into question.
The study was performed within the framework of the state assignment project (No. FWEU-2021-0004) for fundamental research of the Russian Federation (reg. No. АААА-А21-121012090010-7).