Russia Announces World's Longest Tunnel to be Built to Alaska, with Rail and Energy Links
April 19 (EIRNS)--Viktor Razbegin, Deputy Head of Industrial Research of the Russian Economy Ministry, announced to reporters in Moscow April 18 that a transport and pipeline link under the Bering Strait, to Alaska, would be built. It is part of a $65 billion project to supply the U.S. with oil, natural gas, and electricity from Siberia. Russian officials will formally present the plan to the U.S. and Canadian governments next week, Razbegin said.
The proposal to link Eurasia to North and South America via a Bering Strait connection has long been promoted by Lyndon LaRouche and his wife Helga Zepp LaRouche. This proposal has been a part of the eurasian landbridge plan which Helga Zepp LaRouche has promoted since her advocacy begining in [a:href="http:\/\/www.larouchepub.com\/other\/2001\/2828elb_chronology.html";target=_blank]January 1990 of the Paris-Berlin- Vienna-productive triangle[/a]. In January 1997, the EIR issued a special report entitled "The Eurasian Land-Bridge; The `New Silk Road'--locomotive for worldwide economic development," which includes a proposed tunnel connection to North America across the Bering Strait.
According to Razbegin, the planned undersea tunnel will contain a high-speed railway, highway and pipelines, as well as power and fiber-optics, according to TKM-World Link--which is the name of the 6,000 kilometer (3,700 mile) route. The route will take 10-15 years to complete. State organizations and private companies in partnership would build and control the route, Razbegin said. Investors include OAO Russian Railways, national Utility OAO Unified Energy system, and pipeline operator OAO Transneft. Russia and the U.S. may each take 25% stakes, and the governments will act as guarantors for private money, Razbegin said.
The World Link will save North America and Far East Russia $20 billion/yr. on electricity costs, according to Vasily Zubakin, deputy CEO of OAO Hydro OGK, a potential investor, because "It's cheaper to transport electricity east, and with our unique tidal resources [plants] the potential is real." The project envisions building high-voltage power lines with a capacity of up to 15 gigawatts to supply the new rail links and also export to North America. Cargo traffic of as much as 100 million tons annually is expected on the World Link, such that the $15 billion investment in the rail portion of the project could be paid off in 20 years, Zubakin said, explaining, "The transit link is that string on which all our industrial cluster projects could hang."
Former Alaska Governor Walter Hickel is a big promoter of this project. Hickel will co-chair a conference on it in Moscow next week. Hickel was a Republican in his first term as Governor in 1966-1969, and then an Independent from 1990-1994. Alaska's current officials, however, are preoccupied with plans to pipe oil from the North Slope to the lower 48 states, according to Malcolm Roberts, a senior fellow at Anchorage's Institute of the North.
Czar Nicholas II was the first Russian leader to approve a plan for a tunnel under the Bering Strait, in 1905. The Project was ended by World War I.