Russia's nuclear powered icebreakers are based in Atomflot, Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Companies foresee lack of icebreakers, sign deals on long-term lease of two nuclear-powered vessels

Mining and metallurgy company Nornickel and oil producer Gazprom Neft strike deals with nuclear power company Rosatom over use of icebreakers.
December 06, 2019

It is nuclear powered icebreakers «Taymyr» and «Vaygach» that are the objects of the deals recently signed by the two companies with Rosatom, newspaper RBC reports.

The powerful ships built by the Finnish yard of Wärtsilä in the late 1980s are designed for operations in shallow waters and are extensively used in the Gulf of Ob, as well as the great Siberian rivers.

Both the two companies are heavily engaged in icy Arctic waters and depend on icebreaker support. Nornickel brings ores from its mines and plants in Norilsk and out through the Yenisey river to the Kola Peninsula, while Gazprom Neft operates the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea and the Novy Port project in Yamal.

According to RBC, the deals with Rosatom come as there is growing concern that the quickly growing volumes of goods shipped across the Northern Sea Route ultimately will lead to a lack of icebreakers.

In 2019, the volumes on the Arctic shipping route is expected to reach 30 million tons, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2018. Shipping on the route will continue to grow explosively for a number of years. Already in 2024, volumes are to reach at least 80 million tons, President Vladimir Putin has requested.

Normally, Nornickel and Gazprom Neft conclude 3-5 year long agreements with Rosatom. But this time, the term of the lease is extended to 10 years. In addition, the two companies have gotten assurances that the term can be extended with another two years, until year 2029

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That means that Nornickel and Gazprom Neft will have exclusive rights to apply the «Taymyr» and «Vaygach» until the end of the vessels’ service lives. Both ships are due to be taken out of service in 2029 at the latest.

After that, Nornickel and Gazprom Neft will have to build their own icebreakers.

Rosatom today operates a fleet of five nuclear-powered icebreakers. Three powerful vessels of Project 22220 (LK60) are under construction, the first of which is due to be put into service in 2020.

In addition, the state-owned company plans to start construction of a first Lider-class vessel, the super-powerful 120 MW icebreaker.

By year 2035, Rosatom plans to extend its fleet with five of the 60 MW powerful project 22220 and three of the 120 MW «Lider».

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