New projects for the development of the Russian Arctic: space matters!
Authors: Aleksandr N. Pilyasov, Elena S. Putilova
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The article summarizes the results of the analysis of 23 recent projects for the development of Russian Arctic resources in terms of the spatial effects they generate or rely on. It is proved to be the feature of the economic and geographical approach to the analysis of Arctic projects. The most critical change, compared with the realities of the late Soviet era, is the reliance on the sea logistics of most new projects for the development of Russian Arctic resources. Three main spatial effects of development projects are described in detail: the localization effect, the regional effect, and the corporate effect. The first one reflects the desire of companies to the utmost compactness and a sparsely populated production site, platform solutions using artificial intelligence, remote control, robotic mining, and processing schemes. The second effect revives the Soviet district effect within the contour of the resource corporation as their desire to provide cost savings on the “soft” infrastructure pairing of neighboring production facilities. The third effect characterizes the cooperation of usually competing companies in severe natural and economic conditions for the development of Arctic projects. It is untypical but may occur in some cases. The territorial structures of the new development space are also affected by the desire of companies to absolute control of the resource chain, to rely on previously created development bases, technological, organizational, and institutional innovations, which usually have a spatial “dimension”. An “ideal” corporate scheme for the modern development of Arctic resources — a separate autonomous production platform where production and processing are deployed, with uninhabited technologies and remote control of production, contradicts state interests and creates sharp spatial and social contrasts.