Sinohydro to propose financing for Lena bridge

Chinese SOE Sinohydro (中国水电) will propose a “basic financing model” for the construction of a bridge that will join Yakutsk to Russia’s transport network, says RIA quoting the federal road agency (Росавтодор). The proposal should materialise before the end of this month.

More on the Lena bridge project here.

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Greenland airports: possible Chinese investment?

All three parties in Greenland’s ruling coalition, Siumut, the Democrats and Atassut, have signed a “historicagreement on infrastructure development that envisages expanding two existing airports and building three new ones as well as building a container port in Nuuk and new hydroelectric power plants. The guidelines sketched so far favour building several of these projects through public-private partnerships.

Infrastructure projects, and specifically airports, have been discussed in talks between Greenlandic authorities and potential Chinese investors. Such talks received a good deal of media attention in 2012, but didn’t stop there. During a visit to China last October, Vittus Qujaukitsoq, a minister whose portfolio included finance and trade, explained Greenland’s development plans to representatives from Sinohydro (中国水电), China State Construction Engineering (CSCEC, 中建) and China Harbour Engineering (CHEC, 中国港湾) among other companies. Besides airports, Vittus talked about hydraulic and mining infrastructure projects. The meeting, which appears to have gone unreported in Danish or English-language media, is a sign of continued Chinese interest in investing in Greenland. The coalition partners’ proposal, unveiled just over a month after Vittus returned from China, will surely make a lot more sense if backed by a degree of serious interest from Chinese SOEs.

Prospective Chinese investors might be less happy to learn about the controversy some aspects of the airport plans could generate in Greenland.

At any rate, the first Chinese investor in Greenland could be integrated miner China Nonferrous (中色), if metal prices keep the momentum behind the Citronen fjord and Kvanefjeld mines. Having one Chinese company there could help generate enough confidence for others to follow (and indeed China Nonferrous’ chairman has recently talked of the company playing such a pioneering role in Iceland).

Chinese-Russian ‘intergovernmental commission’ to discuss Yakutsk bridge: Russian sources

An “intergovernmental commission” including vice-premiers Zhang Gaoli 张高丽 and Igor Shuvalov will look into proposals for Chinese companies to build the long-awaited bridge over the Lena river and join Yakutsk to the Russian transport network. That’s according to a press release from the Yakutian railway company ОАО (behold the nested quotes: ОАО «АК „Железные дороги Якутии“»), jointly owned by the federal and Yakutian governments. This information has been reflected in media reports by Interfax and others, but so far all Chinese reporting is just sourced to Sputnik’s Chinese service.

The information about the remarkably high-level involvement comes in the context of an agreement signed a few days ago in Moscow between the Russian side and Sinohydro (中国水电) and somehow related to the construction of the bridge. Again, this information is still based only on Russian reports, and not of the highest quality (as evidenced by a miscyrillisation of the name of Sinohydro chairman Song Dongsheng 宋东升 in the Interfax story, a sign that suggests reporting involving no Chinese expertise).

I’ve discussed the background of the Lena bridge project in some detail in the past. In a nutshell, long-term interaction between the Sakha Republic (i.e. Yakutia) and Heilongjiang governments, originally mediated by private businesspeople, has led to increasingly concrete plans for Chinese contractors to build the much-needed bridge, but funding from the Russian federal government failed to materialise after Crimea’s accession to the federation reshuffled infrastructure development priorities. While the Yakutians have been actively looking for Moscow and/or the Chinese to finance the bridge, the federal government seems to need some more convincing. For an analysis of how much importance Chinese (and specifically Heilongjiang) government entities are likely to attach to infrastructure development in the Russian Far East, you’ll have to wait for my forthcoming writeup on the topic.