Mikhail Zagorodnnikov, Executive Director of Krylov State Research Center: “Organization is the key challenge of Russian shipbuilding”
Russia boosts the construction of icebreakers, develops offshore and Arctic fields. Mikhail Zagorodnnikov, Executive Director of Krylov State Research Center, talks IAA PortNews through today’s projects on construction of new powerful icebreakers, Arctic development, challenges of domestic shipbuilding, promotion of bunkering with alternative fuels and other highlights.
- Mr. Zagorodnikov, Arctic development is in full swing today and a possibility to build a Leader-class icebreaker able to break through ice of almost any thickness has been announced in this context. What is the role of Krylov State Research Center in the development of such a vessel?
- In fact, the Leader-class icebreaker will ensure round-the-year navigation along the Northern Sea Route, both at its low-latitude and high-latitude lanes, breaking through ice of up to 4.3 meters thick. Ice of such thickness is quite rare. Icebreakers being built today (60MW icebreakers LK-60) are not able to break through four-meter thick ice, their icebreaking capacity is slightly over 3 meters.
It is also important that Leader-class icebreakers will be able to make a canal of up to 55 meters wide allowing for leading large convoys, hence the name. The canal of LK-60 is 34-36 meters wide and the escorted transport vessels should have a high ice class.
Besides, there is a task of ensuring a commercial speed for vessels in the ice convoy. It is about 10 knots. Leader-class icebreaker will be able to ensure such a speed in the ice of up to 2.5 meters thick. LK-60 icebreaker is not able to do that in the ice of such thickness.
I would emphasize that the ship is capable of performing a wide range of tasks. For example, it has a closed hangar and a large cargo platform. So the icebreaker can be used as a transport vessel.
Krylov State Research Center has developed a concept design and has held the ice tank tests. Consideration of technical specifications for detailed design being held at the Ministry will be completed soon. Upon obtaining of the Ministry’s approval we will start designing which is to take about 3 years.
Construction cost of the icebreaker is estimated at RUB 75-80 bln. It is a considerable cost due to a high power of the icebreaker. Therefore the Krylov Center has proposed another version of the icebreaker which can make a 62-meter wide canal but has a power of 60 MW. This ship which has a multi-hulled structure can be fitted with any equipment intended for LK-60. These two projects (Leader icebreaker and multi-hulled icebreaker) are not contradicting each other as they are intended for different purposes. Multi-hulled icebreaker would be more efficient for escorting convoys in the Arctic with the development of hydro-meteorological services, deployment of unmanned aircrafts, satellites, etc. This will allow for escaping ice ridges since such vessel cannot break through four-meter thick ice. However this icebreaker will ensure economically efficient speed of 10 knots in 2.5-meter thick ice. Such an icebreaker will cost RUB 50-55 bln (LK-60 costs about RUB 43 bln). By today we have developed a concept design for a multi-hulled icebreaker. Rosatom is highly interested in this project.
- Are you designing any other icebreakers?
- Yes, it is a project of multi-functional shallow-draft icebreaker of 40 MW, Project 10570. The ship’s draft will be 8 meters (Leader-class icebreakers will have a draft of 10-12 meters). Icebreakers of this project will be able to operate in the mouths of the Lena, Yenisei and Ob rivers. They are supposed to replace the Vaygach and Taimyr icebreakers. Though LK-60 icebreakers are duel-draft ships their draft and the cost is higher. The icebreaker will be able to execute different functions when fitted with different equipment. It can be used as an anchor handling ship, a transport ship, a supply ship, a maintenance and a seismic study ship. We have developed a concept design and performed an ice model test.
- Will this many icebreakers be in demand?
- Of course, the country cannot build so many innovative icebreakers simultaneously. Let’s take a Leader-class icebreaker. But I am sure that further construction of icebreaker fleet is necessary. Large scale deliveries of liquefied natural gas under Yamal-LNG project will begin soon, in 2017-18, cargo flow will reach 20 mln t by 2020. Crude shipments have started from the Novoportovskoye field, we took part in designing of the dedicated terminal.
It is important that Yamal-LNG gas will be shipped mostly eastwards, where ice conditions are more challenging as compared with the western part of the Northern Sea Route.
Besides, there are plans to develop transportation of different cargoes via the Arctic ports in view of railway approaches being developed under the projects on Belkomur and Northern Latitudinal Railway.
The available fleet of icebreakers including those under construction is not sufficient for the growing cargo flow even if we take only exports without consideration of transit development plans.
- Has KSRC been anyhow involved in the above mentioned Yamal-LNG project?
- In November-December 2016 Sabetta is to welcome the first gas tanker. In view of this we, together with the Ministry of Transport, have held a dedicated training with modeling of vessel movements at port Sabetta to practice passing of the main canal by the tankers. This work resulted in revealing the trends and development of methods. As of today we are engaged in improvement of the simulators intended for practicing the operations at port Sabetta.
- What are other offshore projects the Krylov Center is involved?
- We have a contract on participation in the modernization of Prirazlomnaya, our work relates to ice resistance. We are also in negotiations with Novatek on participation in the second phase of Yamal-LNG project. There is a plan to apply a different approach on construction of a liquefaction plant – it will be placed within the water area on concrete pontoons. The platforms will be built in the Murmansk region. We are going to take part in the development of transport solutions to deliver and to install those platforms, as well as ice resistance solutions.
Besides, we cooperate with DAMEN on designing of several ice support vessels for Rosneft.
- What is your opinion about cooperation of Russia’s shipbuilding industry with foreign companies and about the prospects on localization of the required production facilities?
- There are few joint technological projects but there is no large scale exchange of technologies with foreigners. We rather purchase some of their ready-made products like electric propulsion systems, diesel-generators, rudder propellers, power electronics. But gradually we substitute it with Russian products. At least, production of mechanical rudder propellers has been launched at Zvezdochka shipyard. By the end of 2016, we expect an instruction to master the production of electric rudder propellers.
- Does the Krylov Center take part in the development of projects the use of alternative ship fuels (LNG and other)?
- As it is known, engines driven by alternative fuels have already been developed in the world. On our part, we suggest designing of LNG bunkering vessels for the Baltic. We have certain progress in this area. We provide consulting services to the interested companies. However, there are no financed projects so far.
- What, in your opinion, are the key challenges of domestic shipbuilding, what measures should be undertaken to meet them?
- Organization is the key challenge. I see no other unsolvable problem, even the financial one. For example, if we continue discussing the bunkering tankers we know that new standards are introduced in respect of hazardous emissions from ships in the Baltic Sea. In my opinion, our companies and organizations should meet and develop a plan on entering the market of alternative fuels. Russia has the plants and resources and many vessels linked to Russia sail in the Baltic Sea. In the result, many ship owners could become our clients. But a prgrogramme should be developed for that purpose, an agreement should be achieved with the key players and financial issues should be solved. It cannot be done without the state, certain preferences are required here. The shipbuilding industry is in a similar situation. It is a problem of the management system.
Another challenge is low operational efficiency. How many years have we been speaking about the necessity to build a dock for construction of vessels from pre-fitted blocks in Saint-Petersburg? We are assembling sections on a slip under the rain and snow. What efficiency can we expect here?
Yet, I should say that the shipbuilding industry is changing in Russia – the competition is growing, independent shipyards and holdings are developing.
- As for shipbuilding projects, the largest is the Zvezda center for construction of large capacity ships. Is the Krylov Center involved?
- We take part in creation of a range of vessels to be built their, we are involved in modeling and testing.
- What are the priority activities of the Krylov Center for the coming years?
- First of all, it is necessary to complete the creation of the Arctic center for integration of the global competence.
Another task is to execute the instructions of the government to change our corporate form as all FSUEs (Federal State Unitary Enterprises – Ed.) are to be dissolved by 2018. Most probably, the Krylov Center will be reorganized into a Federal Autonomous Institution (FAI). This will let us offer our test facilities to all the interested market players under pre-agreed rates.
Interviewed by Vitaly Chernov