Sergei Donskoi
© RIA Novosti. Mihail Mokrushin

Donskoi: New Russian Arctic mission could be postponed until 2016

Russia may postpone the new Arctic research expedition until 2016, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi has told TASS.

"The new Russian Arctic research mission may be postponed until 2016 due to the difficult financial and economic situation," he said, noting that in 2015 the research center will be working within the approved budget for research on Svalbard. At the same time, he said the center is almost ready to set out, as the necessary equipment has been purchased and delivered to Barentsburg.

The research center in the Arctic is being developed in two phases. During the first phase, from 2012-2015, the infrastructure needed for operation was put into place. The plan for the second phase (2015 — 2020) is to establish the research center itself and a permanent Arctic mission.

The permanent Arctic mission project provides for 25 permanent staff residing there during the winters to ensure year-round operation of the Hydrometeorological Observatory, the chemical analytics laboratory, scientific research facilities and infrastructure, along with a seasonal staff of about 40 people, including 25 employees of Roshydromet divisions and 15 student interns.

The research center will have the capacity for as many as 100 researchers to work there simultaneously, according to the development concept for the Russian Svalbard Research Center.

Annual costs of the Arctic mission operation are estimated at 112.8 million rubles.