3 Nov 2023 11:14

Rosatom to order four diesel icebreakers at estimated cost of 120 bln rubles - paper

MOSCOW. Nov 3 (Interfax) - Rosatom plans to commission the construction of four diesel icebreakers with capacity of 40 MW, business daily Vedomosti reported on Friday, citing the Russian state nuclear corporation's special representative for development of the Arctic, Vladimir Panov.

He said the "indicative price" for one icebreaker is currently over 30 billion rubles, so the series of four will cost at least 120 billion rubles. A more precise price will be determined once the engineering design is completed.

The vessels will be built based on one design. Construction is supposed to start in 2024, after the Iceberg design bureau in St. Petersburg completes the engineering design, and the flagship icebreaker is expected to go into operation in 2028.

Panov said it will only be possible to hold negotiations with a specific shipyard on the scope of a contract after the design is finished.

The sources for financing the construction of the icebreakers have not been determined yet, but Rosatom proposes to cover the costs with take-or-pay contracts with cargo shippers, he said.

In order for shipping along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) to take off, "it is necessary to create conditions where the cost of sailing the route will be comparable to existing logistics routes," the paper quoted Panov as saying.

"Icebreaker services are a key factor that increases logistics costs. Rosatom, together with the government, is looking for ways to reduce the cost of icebreaker services for users," Panov said.

Once the government makes a decision on the level of rates that can be charged, it will be possible to hold negotiations with a specific shipyard on the parameters of the contract and put together project financing, he said.

He also said the diesel icebreakers will operate in the Gulf of Ob, Yenisei Gulf and Kara Sea. "Their main objective is to free up nuclear icebreakers for the eastern sector of the NSR, from the Vilkitsky Strait to the Bering Strait. This will make it possible to form a new eastern icebreaker group and ensure year-round navigation along the whole stretch of the NSR. It will be possible to determine the projects in the interests of which the non-nuclear icebreakers will operate after decisions on the financing terms and the start of construction," Panov said.

Rosatom's plans to build four 40 MW diesel icebreakers were first reported in 2017. Initially, nuclear or LNG propulsion systems were considered for the series. However, nuclear icebreakers, which would cost about twice as much as non-nuclear ones, were ruled out as there were no prospects for government funding, and the company opted for dual-fuel vessels that could run on LNG and diesel, the paper said. Rosatom division Atomflot ordered an Aker ARC 123 basic design from Finland's Aker Arctic in 2017. Subsequently, the company abandoned the duel-fuel concept, as Russia does not make engines that run on LNG, and decided to go with just a diesel option.