Author: Paul MacDonald MIEI, CEng, executive engineer/training officer, Kildare National Roads Office
The Russian economy has faced exceptional infrastructure needs as its economy transitions from the Soviet-era command economy to a rapidly growing market economy driven by energy resource exports. Russia’s vast geographic size creates challenges in terms of spatial planning for infrastructure across nine time zones, while its variable climate creates technical issues regarding infrastructure resilience.
Russia has in its favour a strong engineering tradition in the space exploration, industrial and defence sectors, which are relevant to the skill needs in a modern business economy. Traditional government policy approaches in sectors such as transportation have, however, led to variability in the quality of services, given the lower emphasis on competitive market choice in the past.
The Russian Ministry of Transport estimates that $3.7 trillion (Tn) will be required for transport infrastructure up to 2030. Economic diversification requires $1 Tn of investment in the industrial sector, with further project funding needed in the oil and gas sectors to ensure competitiveness against new extraction technologies. Infrastructure investment will facilitate Russia’s economic development according to Marc Partridge, managing director of Gazprom Bank.
The investment will comprise public expenditure and private sector funding which is being utilised on a strategic basis to avail of private sector expertise in infrastructure management. The partnership of the Russian Federal Government and private sector investors will be necessary to continue Russia’s integration into the global economy based on infrastructure upgrade.
Russia will become the largest car market in Europe by 2016. Car ownership has increased at a rate five times faster than the growth of the road network. The modernisation of Russia’s road system will require upgrade of 37% of the road network while new roads are needed to ensure access to isolated regional centres.
The average road coverage in Russia is 0.06km per km2, which is less than the road coverage of other large states such as Canada and Australia, at 0.10km per km2 and 0.11km per km2 respectively. This highlights the lower accessibility of Russia’s road network.
The M11 Moscow to St Petersburg Highway, a new phased 670km length of dual four-lane motorway, is a key project for enhancing access in western Russia. The scheme commenced in 2008 and is due for completion by 2018. The construction programme for the M11 Highway project is very much dependent on seasonal climatic conditions. Site access is limited during the autumn rain season, when ground conditions are soft, while excess snow in the winter can also delay the construction schedule.
In terms of quality control, international expertise is being utilised on the M11 Project to ensure the highest control standard. The scheme impact on the nearby Khimki Forest necessitated planting of replacement forest areas to minimise the environmental effect. The M11 Scheme will deliver high standard inter-urban travel with integrated environmental protection.
[caption id="attachment_11183" align="alignright" width="4368"] Russky Island Bridge[/caption]
In the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast, the Russky Island Bridge was completed in 2011, connecting Vladivostok to Russky Island. The cable suspended bridge has a total length of 1872m with a world record-breaking central span length of 1104m. The bridge’s main elements consist of two A-Frame concrete pylons of height 320m from which 168 Freyssinet Monostrand cables support the central span. The advantage of this system is the independence of each strand, which enables individual installation, tensioning and removal of strands.
The compact nature of the Monostrand system enables installation of 20% more 15.7mm wire strands in each cable to increase vibration resistance. The Monostrand can accommodate 2 million cycles with a stress range up to 300 Newtons per mm2. To ensure corrosion protection, the wire strands are coated in petroleum wax and covered in polyethylene to prevent water entry.
The longer cables have liquid magneto-rheological dampers to maintain stability against wind and rain, the fluid viscosity of which are adjusted by electromagnetic techniques based on the particular vibration level. The Monostrand Cable System has integrated tensile strength, corrosion protection and vibration resistance parameters, which enhances the performance of Russky Bridge. The M11 Motorway and Russky Bridge projects will assist in reducing geographic isolation to enhance social and economic access across the country.
Rail networks in Russia are important for maintaining access to remote regions of the state. There are 85,000km of railway in the country. Rail transport accounts for 85% of cargo transport if pipelines are excluded, which illustrates the key role of this transport mode for the economy. Rail investment of $1.5 Tn is required up to 2030 to construct over 20,000km of new railways and replace ageing trains.
Given Russia’s geographic size, high-speed rail technology will play a central role in mitigating the historical disadvantage associated with land transport over its large land area. High-speed rail could provide a strategic alternative to sea transport with the possible creation of a rail land bridge from Asia to Europe. A land bridge is a concept used to describe a route that crosses land in order to bridge two oceans. High-speed rail trains could transport the 100 million tonnes of cargo that will transit through Russia’s eastern ports from Asia by 2030.
[caption id="attachment_11179" align="alignright" width="1000"] SAPSAN high-speed rail train[/caption]
At Moscow, the SAPSAN high-speed rail train connecting to St Petersburg on the Baltic Sea and Nizhny Novgorod to the east was completed in 2009. Further lines are planned to Azoz on the Black Sea and to Europe. The SAPSAN train is based on Siemens Velaro Technology, which enables a travel speed of 250km/hour. The Velaro multi-unit technology is based on distributed traction where the braking system, transformers and traction motors are located underneath the entire train length.
The key advantage of the Velaro technology is its faster acceleration and steeper gradient climb capability. It also provides 20% more passenger space. The distributed traction equipment also reduces loading and the resultant friction wear on wheels and tracks thereby extending the operational life to 30 years. The higher performance and lower maintenance needs of the SAPSAN train results in a 99% punctuality rating which enhances passenger confidence.
Russia’s severe climatic conditions present a challenging operational environment for the SAPSAN train. The technical equipment, insulation and lubricants are designed to operate in the temperate range from -40oC to 40oC. In order to protect the traction components from ice and snow while simultaneously providing the optimum cooling level for these same elements, the cooling system is effectively sealed from the roof to the air tight floor plans.
The strength of the undercarriage material is tested to extremely low temperatures to ensure adequate performance. This technology enhances the resilience of the SAPSAN Train for the harsh climatic conditions of Russia.
The design of the SAPSAN train has integrated speed performance, equipment resilience and climatic condition parameters to produce a safe high performance transport system. The SAPSAN train, named after the high-speed Peregine Falcon bird, offers the technical means to realise Russia’s vision of a new global land bridge through its interior linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
[caption id="attachment_11187" align="alignright" width="2239"] Metro station in Moscow[/caption]
Public transport serves 951 cities and 59,000 towns in Russia. In the capital city Moscow, the key to ensuring urban sustainability is a reduction in private car usage through modernisation of the Metro and suburban rail systems. The passenger density on the Moscow Metro at peak hours is 5.6 persons per m2 just below Tokyo’s subway rate of 7 persons per m2. The construction of the new Moscow Rail Ring will facilitate 283 million orbital passenger journeys per annum.
New stations are planned to link the Metro, suburban rail and SAPSAN high-speed rail enabling multi-modal travel. These engineering measures will reduce peak-hour journey times by 45% and decrease the Moscow Metro passenger density towards the Paris City Metro rate of 4 persons per m2. Private sector involvement in the operation of the public transport system will also assist in delivering quality public transport in Moscow to enhance accessibility.
Special infrastructure projects are also being planned for upcoming sports events such as the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Infrastructure investment of $14 billion (Bn) is under way for the Winter Olympics, which includes for a new light rail metro in Sochi. New transport and social infrastructure will improve the quality of life in Russia’s cities and will enhance its capacity to host key sport and cultural events in front of a world audience.
OIL AND GAS SECTOR
[caption id="attachment_11181" align="alignright" width="2278"] Gas plant in Komi, Russia[/caption]
Russia’s economic growth since the 1990s has been driven by increasing global demand for oil and gas resources. Russia will face future competition, however, in the gas sector from liquid natural-gas supply networks, and in the oil sector from the USA, which is set to become the world’s top oil producer by 2020 based on fracking technology.
The state company Gazprom Ltd is responsible for 78% of gas output in Russia. In 2010, Gazprom produced 508 billion cubic metres of gas and 32 million tons of oil. By 2020, it aims to produce 660 billion cubic metres of gas and 100 million tons of oil. The Ural Mountain region is the main extraction location for oil and gas at present with future exploration planned in the Yamal Peninsula and Eastern Siberia, which are environmentally sensitive areas. The strategy for future gas field development is linked to cost effectiveness through upgrade of production and pipeline infrastructure.
A key project in the gas sector is the Yakutia-Khabarovsk pipeline linking to the important Pacific market. The key challenge for such gas projects is maximising transport efficiency across long distances. In advance of transmission, water moisture is removed to prevent blockages from the formation of crystalline hydrate plugs.
The drying process involves transmitting the gas through absorbents or cooling the gas in cooling plants. Hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide are then removed and the gas is odorised for domestic consumer safety. The transmission efficiency of the pipelines is further enhanced through additional gas cooling.
Seasonal temperature variations require gas re- pressurisation at compressor stations to compensate for consumer demand fluctuations The pressurisation increases gas temperature levels, which is mitigated through further cooling to prevent equipment damage. The processing and transmission of gas requires a system design which integrates the chemical composition, pressure levels and temperature parameters of the gas.
The Gazprom supply system ensures transmission efficiency and consumer safety. Russia’s gas supply reached 64.4% of the population in 2013, indicating the growing benefit to consumers of this clean energy source.
The Russian Government has adopted a strategy of encouraging private sector involvement to bring alternative financing and private sector expertise into infrastructure delivery. The M11 Moscow-St Petersburg Highway Scheme was a public private partnership concession scheme, while the Western High Speed Ring Road in St Petersburg was funded by public and private sector investment.
The infrastructure sectors which investors will focus on are railways, ports and supply grids, given their higher profit margins, while airports and roads have a medium level of investment attractiveness given their higher substitution factor. Transparent procurement methods for infrastructure projects will be needed to attract private sector investment in the future.
Russia is a key economy based on its abundant energy resources, industrial potential and strategic location between Europe and Asia. Engineering infrastructure is the key to overcoming Russia’s geographic constraints and economic legacy. Harmonisation and modernisation of its infrastructure through greater private sector involvement will be vital to transform Russia’s aspirations into economic reality.