Russian authorities are preparing for the installation of new living modules at the country's new Antarctic research station in a project that has financial backing from liquefied natural gas magnate Leonid Mikhelson.
The modules for the Vostok station were shipped from St Petersburg to Antarctica by the country’s nuclear-powered carrier Sevmorput at the end of October.
Design and construction of the modules — set to provide two-year autonomous accommodation to a team of between 15 and 35 researchers — have been sponsored by Novatek's billionaire chairman Mikhelson.
In January this year, Mikhelson sold an almost 1% stake in Russian LNG giant Novatek to investors in Europe, raising estimated €257 million ($300 million) to finance construction of the modules.
Authorities in Moscow have tied delivery of new modules with the 200-year anniversary of the Antarctic's discovery by German naval officer Fabian von Bellingshausen, who led a Russian expedition that spotted the previously unknown continent on 27 January 1820.
The modules that will be installed next to the existing Soviet research station are expected to become fully operational by 2024, with another Russian gas player, Zapsibgazprom, charged with onsite assembly and commissioning.
President Vladimir Putin has backed the project, with the government saying it strengthens the country's position in Antarctica.
Mikhelson may well hope his patronage also curries favour with the Kremlin when it comes to considering new concessions for Novatek-led LNG projects in West and East Siberia.