In November 2012 President Putin signed a Presidential order for the construction of four new Power Plants in the cities of Blagoveshchensk, Sovetskaya Gavan, Sakhalin and Yakutsk. RusHydro, the Federal Hydro-generating Company, was given a $USD1.5 billion budget and instructed to commence the search for contractors.
Of the four cities chosen as beneficiaries of the energy investment program, the delivery to and construction of the Yakutsk “GRES-2” State District Power Plant presented the greatest logistical challenge. Located about 450 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, Yakutsk is a major port and mid-size city of 290,000 inhabitants, situated on the banks of the great Siberian River Lena.
Extreme temperature has a major impact on life and infrastructure in Siberia. Yakutsk is the coldest major city in the world. The coldest temperatures ever recorded, outside Antarctica, occurred in the basin of the Yana River, northeast of Yakutsk.
Yakutsk is the biggest city built on continuous permafrost and the majority of buildings are constructed on concrete piles. Yakutsk is the destination of the Lena Highway, also known as the Amur-Yakutsk Highway, connecting Yakutsk with the Trans-Siberian Railway corridor near Skovorodino.
The Highway runs parallel to the Amur–Yakutsk Mainline railway, taking its name from the Lena River, running north-south in this region of Siberia. The road terminates on the east bank of Lena, with Yakutsk situated entirely on the west bank of Lena. Only when river conditions permit, vehicles can navigate the frozen river to Yakutsk, or take the ferry. However, for much of the year the river is impassable due to rough waters during spring flooding, ice floes or semi-thawed ice not supporting the weight of vehicles.
The new power plant has been built in the permafrost zone (no similar projects have been undertaken in Russia’s Far East since the 1980’s) located outside the city, near the gas-distribution station, providing a reliable fuel supply.
RusHydro declared that General Electric Power would provide the clean power, based on 4 of the GE LM6000 Sprint gas turbine aircraft derived solution.
"Instar Logistics" were chosen to drive the delivery, based upon their competitive tender and experience gained transporting 22 similar. The company has accumulated great experience in providing efficient and well-engineered transport schemes from plants in the United States and Europe.
The logistics story started as GE’s turbines and related technologies were brought together in Houston, Texas. A Hansa F-series multi- purpose heavy lift vessel was designated for the sea transportation between Houston and Vladivostok. The MV HHL Mississippi, fitted with dual 180 tonne (combined lift 360 tonne) provided the full lift capability for the 3-days whilst being loaded in Houston port.
The MV Mississippi took 9 days to traverse the 2100 nautical miles across the Gulf of Mexican to the Panama Canal and then crossed the Pacific, travelling to the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok.
Instar Logistics took 3-days unloading the MV HHL Mississippi in Vladivostok commercial seaport, including completing all customs clearance formalities. Given the complexities of customs clearance and the sheer scale of the freight movement, this was an extremely quick and stands testament to the Instar declarants and customs officers involved in the process.
Vladivostok commercial seaport (CPV) is very well equipped with the necessary infrastructure to handle project cargo. The Universal Terminal covers 165,000m2 including five 63-ton cranes. However, as in Houston, the MV Mississippi dual 180 tonne lift cranes made short work of the four GE gas turbines and loading was made rapidly onto waiting trucks.
The onward journey to Yakutsk took special planning and a detailed route-reconnaissance in August 2014, because of the size and weight of the consignment and the challenges brought on by road conditions.
In total, 70 trucks were used. The oversized and heavy (up to 78 ton single pieces) cargoes were transported by special low loader trucks and 7/8 axle semi-trailers. The journey from Vladivostok to Yakutsk was over 3000 kilometres of Russian roads; an arduous trip taking 8 days for the standard trucks and 14 for the heavy equipment.
The trucks, brought in specially and managed throughout by the Instar team and their contractors, followed the main Federal roads M56 and M58. The only road that is ‘passable’ year-round, connecting Yakutsk to the rest of the world, is the M-56 "Lena" from Magadan.
The M-56 is dilapidated due to the nearly year-round extreme temperatures, ice, and snow. There are many small rivers and ponds along the road, and most of the "bridges" lie beneath the water. In 2006, the road won the dubious distinction of "worst road in the world".
The final delivery to Yakutsk was, thankfully, an anti-climax.
After a journey of tens of thousands of miles; crossing the Gulf of Mexico; traversing the Panama Canal; navigating the Pacific; clearing customs in Vladivostok; covering over 3000 kilometres of Siberian roads, carrying the huge out-sized loads on special multi-axles trucks, the convoy arrived as planned.
Three days of unloading and the “Yakut GRES-2” State District Power Plant took delivery of the gas turbines.