Abramovich's Passage To America
Mar 28, 2008 - Forbes.com
London - Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea
soccer club be setting his sights on improving U.S.-Russian
The driven Russian businessman, credited with turning around
the fortunes of the English premier league team, is buying
the world's biggest drill with the lofty ambition of creating
an undersea tunnel between Alaska and Siberia, according
to press reports on Friday.
Infrastruktura, Abramovich's Moscow-based firm is paying
100 million euros ($158.2 million) for a massive 62.3 foot
wide drill which will be built by German engineering firm
Herrenknecht, according to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph
on Friday. A spokeswoman for the German company contacted
by Forbes.com declined to comment on the reports.
This has prompted speculation within the Russian press
that Abramovich is considering building an undersea tunnel
across the 58 mile long Bering Strait, between Chukotka
in Siberia and Alaska.
While the prospect of a tunnel between the former Cold
War enemies may bring to mind a James Bond-esque plot, Abramovich's
intentions are far more honorable, according to the reports:
he aims to strengthen Russia's links and relations with
the rest of the world.
According to Germany's Der Spiegel the drill will also
be used to build infrastructure in Russia, including at
the Black Sea resort of Sochi where the 2014 Winter Olympics
will be held.
Apart from the challenge of getting the U.S. to agree to
a link up with its former opponent, the icy waters of the
strait will making building an underwater tunnel a far more
challenging prospect than the 30 mile long Channel Tunnel
that links Britain and France, which cost an estimated £4.7
billion ($9.5 billion) to build.
Still Abramovich, who though orphaned as a child and a
college drop-out, went to make billions in the Russian oil
industry, is the last person likely to be fazed by what
may seem like a mission impossible. His efforts transformed
Chelsea from a virtual non-hoper into one of the most successful
soccer teams in the world. Since Abramovich took over, the
team has won two of the English top league's annual trophies,
having not won it even once in the previous fifty years.