• 2013 November 6

    Money never freeze over

    Russia renovates the fleet of icebreakers with parallel abolishment of obligatory icebreaking dues. The maintenance of nuclear icebreakers is supposed to be made up with new technologies improving their commercial efficiency and increased number of Arctic voyages.

    Amount involved

    Baltiysky Zavod in Saint-Petersburg has laid down the lead 60-MWt multipurpose double-draught nuclear icebreaker of Project 22220. There is a plan to build 3 icebreakers of this type. The lead vessel is valued at RUB 37 bln. According to Vyacheslav Ruksha, Director General of FSUE Atomflot, who answered the question of IAA PortNews journalist at the ceremonial keel laying of the new ship, the services of the Arktika type icebreaker with the crew of 100 persons should cost $120,000 -$140,000 per day to let it be independent of state support. As IAA PortNews learnt from one of the companies operating at the Northern Sea Route, it is twice as much as the icebreaker services cost today. It should be also noted that new 60-MWt icebreakers are to have the crew of 75 persons.

    Meanwhile, the law on the Northern Sea Route abolishes the obligatory icebreaker dues which were earlier used to ensure stable financing of the nuclear fleet. Now the payment will comprise charges for actual services provided with maximum tariff set forth by the Federal Tariff Service. The pricing policy is under development but Atomflot has already called to revive the system of collecting dues from all ship owners whose vessels pass the Northern Sea Route.

    The state has faced a dilemma: either raising of tariff limit or to subsidize the activities of the nuclear fleet. The first decision would decrease the attractiveness of NSR as a transit route. 

    However, the state counts on the growth in the number of Arctic voyages which is to pay off for Atomflot activities and to let it decrease the tariffs. 

    According to calculations of Rosmorrechflot and Atomflot, the transit flow along the Northern Sea Route is to make 15 mln t per year by 2030. This can be supplemented with LNG of Yamal-LNG and Pechora-LNG projects. The first one is expected to ship about 15 mln t of LNG from Sabetta, the second one – at least 2 mln t of LNG via Indiga terminal. So, the total volume of cargo transported by NSR can exceed 30 mln t per year which is likely to decrease the cost of icebreaking services. 

    Besides, with decommissioning of icebreakers built in soviet time and introduction of new ones, the efficiency of their operation is to be higher. 

    Technologies in the service of economy

    As of today, FSUE Atomflot operates six nuclear icebreakers. The operational life of some icebreakers has been extended from 100,000 to 175,000 hours. All of them, except for icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy, should be decommissioned in 2018-22. 

    In order to avoid the construction of many costly icebreakers designed separately for deep water operation and for operation in river mouths, it was decided to design and build a series of multipurpose nuclear icebreakers capable of operation in both shallow and deep waters. This feature will be ensured by a double-draught structure allowing changing of the draught depending on working conditions. 

    On November 5, 2013, Baltiysky Zavod in Saint-Petersburg laid down the lead 60-MWt multipurpose double-draught nuclear icebreaker of Project 22220. State corporation Rosatom has also announced the tender for construction of two serial nuclear icebreakers, which are most likely to be built by Baltiysky Zavod as well. 

    It is important that the width of these icebreakers will be sufficient for escorting tankers of up to 100,000 dwt which are supposed to be used for LNG exports from Yamal. Cost efficiency of 100,000-dwt tankers seem to be higher as compared with vessels of lower capacity.

    Moreover, the crew of such an icebreaker will consist of 75 persons, which is less than that of former Arktika type icebreaker by one forth.

    Another advantage of the new project icebreakers will be the extended service life (40 years instead of 25-30 years for old vessels) with a possibility to extend the operational life to “fantastic” 50-60 years. 

    The lead ship is to be delivered in December 2017 with the delivery of the two serial icebreakers scheduled for 2018 and 2020 respectively. 

    So, by 2022, Russian fleet of nuclear icebreakers will comprise 4 icebreakers including 3 multipurpose icebreakers being more cost efficient ones. Therefore, the costs for fleet maintenance are to decrease. In case of intense development of the Arctic shipping, more multipurpose icebreakers can be built. Serial vessels will cost less with the design available.

    Nevertheless, there is a plan to build a 100-MWt icebreaker-leader. The tender for this design is to be announced in 2014. This multihulled icebreaker will be able to make a wider canal as compared with other icebreakers. However, the reasonability of this is not evident, especially in view of the forecasted warming in the Arctic, as we wrote earlier>>>> .

    Vitaly Chernov