During the Eastern Economic Forum, Russian state nuclear company Rosatom (“Rosatom”), Norilsk Nickel PJSC (“Nornickel”) and the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center JSC (“FESRC JSC”) entered into a cooperation agreement on designing and constructing a dual-fuel diesel LNG icebreaker.
The purpose of the agreement is to find solutions to strategically important national issues, which include implementing investment projects in the Russian Arctic, developing the Northern Sea Route’s infrastructure and substituting imports with Russian-made LNG icebreakers. Achieving these objectives will help to increase the cargo volume on the Northern Sea Route.
Moreover, as part of the project to expand navigation capacity in the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route and create a year-round international maritime transport corridor of global significance (which, in addition to traditional transport routes, will reliably connect the countries of the Asia-Pacific region with Europe through the Arctic Ocean), Nornickel will require enhanced icebreaker support for its cargo ships. Vessels for projects on the Taimyr Peninsula, in the western part of the Northern Sea Route, including in the Yenisey Gulf and on the Yenisey River, also require icebreaker support that does not rely solely on the nuclear-powered icebreaker, Taymyr, which is soon to be decommissioned.
The parties have agreed to form a working group. Nornickel will provide information on the prospective cargo traffic, the vessel types and the number of voyages to/from the port of Dudinka. This information will be used to develop a specification for designing and building the LNG icebreaker, which will determine the key parameters of the project: the width, deadweight tonnage and capacity of the vessel, taking into account the future need to pilot ships of various sizes.
Furthermore, Nornickel and Rosatom intend to address the issue of raising funds for designing and building the LNG icebreaker, including the possibility of receiving state subsidies for the provision of services. As a result, an updated schedule for the design, construction and commissioning of the new icebreaker will be formed in order to ensure the scheduled replacement of the Taymyr nuclear icebreaker can take place within the framework of Nornickel’s projects.
FESRC JSC will provide Nornickel and Rosatom with information about the potential designer and shipbuilder. Iceberg Central Design Bureau JSC and Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex LLC are candidates for supplying these services, providing that they are able to comply with the procurement procedures of Nornickel and Rosatom, as well as relevant legislation.
All parties plan to sign the contract for designing and building the LNG icebreaker in 2022.
The following representatives of the parties signed the agreement in the presence of Alexey Likhachev, Director General of State Corporation Rosatom, and Andrey Shishkin, Director General of FESRC JSC: Kirill Komarov, First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business at Rosatom; Sergey Dubovitsky, Senior Vice President Strategy, Strategic Projects, Logistics & Procurement, Nornickel; and Oleg Sidenko, Executive Director of FESRC JSC.
Vladimir Potanin, President of Nornickel, commented: "The icebreaker fleet is the cornerstone of the large-scale programme to modernise the transport infrastructure of the Norilsk industrial region. Nornickel is scaling up shipping volumes to enable strategic investment projects in the region to be delivered on schedule. The new icebreaker will help us to achieve our ambitious goals, and the agreement will be an important step in cementing the partnership between leading Russian companies in the development of the Arctic."
Kirill Komarov, First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business at Rosatom, added: "Building LNG icebreakers is a new stage in the development of the Northern Sea Route. They will allow us to satisfy the requirements of investors in the western sector by replacing ageing decommissioned nuclear icebreakers, as well as to free up more powerful vessels for operation in the East."
For context, on July 23, 2021, Rosatom and Nornickel signed an addendum to their 2018 cooperation agreement, which is valid until 2030 - a testament to the strategic partnership between the two companies. The addendum relates to enhancing the cooperation between the two parties in connection with Nornickel’s planned increase in cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route. In particular, the agreement expands the annual window during which Rosatom provides Nornickel with icebreaker support services. At present, Taymyr and Vaygach-type nuclear-powered icebreakers accompany Nornickel vessels from January to May. Under the new agreement, the period of vessel accompaniment will be expanded to November-May.
The parties intend to cooperate in providing uninterrupted and environmentally safe icebreaker support for vessels navigating the Northern Sea Route.