Arctic mining is not limited to oil and gas
An Arctic zone resident has opened a service centre for road travellers
14.11.2022 // The word 'Atlas' is, without translation, familiar to all those on the move. That is the name of the multifunctional complex which was opened on 13 November near the Pechenga settlement, at 1517th kilometre of Kola federal highway. The company Ivekta Group has managed to create a service centre, the like of which does not exist in the north of Russia yet. An ordinary petrol filling station neighbours here with a modern electric charging station, a cosy café with Arctic cuisine and a shop for car owners. In the near future, Atlas will also offer services of parking, car washing, tyre fitting and free wheel inflation.
But more than that, Atlas is a place for recreation and socialising. Come to the filling station on a day off to have a seat at a table with panoramic windows or out on the terrace with a picturesque view of the mountains? Why not!
'This, perhaps, was the main idea of the project—to create such conditions for travellers so that they could relax fully and with pleasure while on the road,' says Maxim Kukushkin, managing director of the Ivekta Group.
And the project started with solving urgent problems of Pechenga and neighbouring communities: for many years, people living near the federal highway had nowhere to refuel their cars. A filling station that used to exist was shut down, and for about 10 years, the residents of the nearby villages had to travel to the nearest town, Zapolyarny.
'The problem certainly needed a solution!' says Maksim Kukushkin. 'It is clear that not only local residents but everyone who travels along the Kola motorway needs somewhere to stop, refuel, rest and have a snack. We decided to build a multifunctional complex in the same place where the old Pechenga petrol station used to be. But not in the settlement itself, but next to it, so that the service centre could be conveniently used by both Pechenga residents and other car travellers.'
The project was launched after it won the interest-free loan competition of the Second School Centre (founded by the Pechenga administration) (founded by the Administration of Pechenga Municipal District and Nornickel). Further support for the entrepreneurs was provided by Ivekta Group's obtaining AZRF resident status—along with all the benefits it is entitled to. Capital investment in the project, under an agreement with the Far East Development Corporation, amounted to RUB 27 mn.
'We started working on the project a year and a half ago. The first thing we did was to contact the Murmansk architectural bureau "Centre for Urban Development," and we agreed that we wanted a modern, "light" building in a Scandinavian style. Then construction began, car park equipment, installation of a "smart filling station" and an electric charging station,' says Maxim Kukushkin.
The installation of a high-speed station for electric cars capable of fully charging the car in 30–60 minutes is not a tribute to fashion but a necessity, Maxim Kukushkin emphasises:
'Today, the use of eco-friendly electric cars is a global trend. Gradually, it is gaining momentum in the Murmansk Region as well. But, on top of that, the western border is at hand, and Scandinavia is the leader in the number of electric cars. There are quite a lot of people coming from there, and most of them, when staying with us, definitely ask about the electric charging station.'
One of the main highlights of Atlas is a café with Arctic cuisine: dishes from venison, fish, berries, mushrooms and seafood. Now the plans are to organise food delivery service at the café.
For the Ivekta Group the opening of the complex in Pechenga is not the end, but only the first stage of the project. So, it has already started building the next roadside complex.
'The nearest plans are to open a similar service centre at the entrance to the Lovozero settlement. We plan to open it in summer 2023,' says Maxim Kukushkin. 'For the future, we are thinking about creating a network of multifunctional complexes in the Murmansk Region—in those areas where the need for them is particularly high. We will focus on developing the electric charging infrastructure—the number of electric cars in the country will definitely grow in the foreseeable future. We have already been approached by the administrations of several municipalities with a request to build such complexes, including not only a classic gas station but also an electric charging station. So we will definitely have something to do in the coming years.'
'The project of the roadside complex in Pechenga District was supported by the Murmansk Regional Development Corporation from the moment of finding a land plot for construction. The new complex in Lovozero will be built jointly with equal financial participation. The project has already received the AZRF resident status,' said Svetlana Panfilova, Director General of the Murmansk Region Development Corporation.
'Investors in the world's largest preferential territory have access to zero property, land and income taxes for 5 years, a 75% subsidy on insurance premiums for newly created jobs for 10 years and up to 50% tax deduction on solid minerals for new mines until 2032. In addition, the resident of the AZRF may obtain land for a new enterprise and apply the free customs zone procedure. We comprehensively support each project and, together with regional development institutions, provide a full range of services and facilities to FEDC,' said Vladimir Gudkov, Director of the Department for Arctic Zone Investment Projects Support in FEDC.