Arktika icebreaker readies for NSR
Russian state-owned Rosatomflot's 60MW Arktika nuclear icebreaker is set to leave for its Northern Sea Route (NSR) base in Murmansk on 22 September, Russian shipbuilder United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) said.
The vessel — the first of five 60MW icebreakers scheduled under Project 22220 — finished its second sea trials yesterday with USC's St Petersburg-based Baltic shipyard, the shipbuilder said. The Arktika is expected to arrive in Murmansk in early October, when it is likely to be delivered to Rosatomflot, which operates the NSR.
The delivery will increase Rosatomflot's nuclear icebreaker fleet to five vessels, three of which were also berthed at the Murmansk base today. All four of the existing fleet have less powerful engines than the Arktika, limiting their speed and ability to break through thicker pack ice.
Rosatomflot's icebreaker fleet helps to maintain NSR transit — particularly during the opening and closing periods in the summer transit season — for the 15 Arc7 ice-class LNG tankers that serve the Novatek-led 16.5mn t/yr Yamal LNG project. Recently ordered Arc7 vessels for Novatek's planned 19.8mn t/yr Arctic LNG 2 project have been redesigned to work better with the Project 22220 icebreakers.
But an increase in both the number and power of icebreakers, compared with the existing four-strong fleet, is required to widen the traditional timeframe for NSR transit, allowing Yamal and Arctic LNG 2 volumes longer periods of direct access to northeast Asian demand markets. Novatek expects to achieve year-round navigation of the passage by 2024-25.
The following four scheduled icebreakers under Project 22220 are slated for delivery in 2021-26. A further three 120MW vessels —Project 10510 — are expected to be built at the Rosneft-led Zvezda shipyard in Russia's far east and delivered from 2027.