Atomflot and NOVATEK intend to build LNG icebreakers

Both companies intend to build LNG icebreakers.
"Atomflot" by September should receive a project of an icebreaker on liquefied gas (LNG) with a capacity of 40 MW, after which the operator can decide to place an order for two or at once for four such vessels. The cost of the LNG icebreaker, according to Kommersant, is about $ 250 million, they can be allocated by Rosatom with loans. However, a similar project to create a fleet of gas-powered icebreakers NOVATEK, a key producer of LNG and the main shipper of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), could jeopardize the plans of nuclear power engineers.

Under the jurisdiction of Rosatom, FSUE Atomflot commissioned a single supplier to develop a tender project for a linear icebreaker on LNG with a capacity of 40 megawatts, it follows from the materials of state procurement. The price of the contract is 28.3 million rubles, or € 354 thousand, the term is 31 August. According to Kommersant sources, the projector is Finnish Aker Arctic Technology. As noted in the documents, the project will be used to obtain from commercial shipyards commercial proposals for the construction of an icebreaker. Atomflot head Vyacheslav Ruksha told Kommersant that issues related to the project, including the structure of financing, are being worked out, the decision can be made in two to three months.

The fact that Atomflot is considering the possibility of building four icebreakers for LNG for NOVATEK, became known in 2017 (see "Kommersant" on September 22). Then the construction of icebreakers was worked out (the variant of atomic ones was also considered). In March, deputy head of FSUE Mustafa Kashka mentioned the possibility of constructing four LNG icebreakers for the western part of the Northern Sea Route and the Ob Bay.

According to sources from Kommersant, icebreakers are planned to be built according to the "two plus two" scheme. The tender for the first two is planned for the first quarter of 2019, the laying of the head icebreaker for the spring of 2020. The construction of the icebreaker, according to one of the interlocutors "Kommersant", depending on the shipyard will be three to four years. Another source of Kommersant believes that, as long as there is no project, the construction of the icebreaker will take at least four and a half years, the next one will be delivered in 8-12 months. The icebreaker can cost about $ 250 million, one of the interlocutors of Kommersant believes.

As Kommersant wrote, the main bidder for the order is the Vyborg Shipyard (VSZ) in cooperation with Arctech Helsinki Shipyard in Helsinki (the shipyards are part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, USC). Now, according to Kommersant, this option remains the main one. The USC Kommersant reported that they "are interested and are considering the possibility of building such an icebreaker", the project may involve the FAZ, "Admiralty Shipyards" and Baltzavod, it all depends on the loading of the stocks. In the USC noted that the construction will be the maximum cooperation with other shipyards of the corporation. The Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that they are working with Atomflot to build icebreakers for FSUE, including LNG, the place of construction and sources of financing are still being determined.

According to Kommersant sources in the industry, it is still assumed that icebreakers will be built on Rosatom money and borrowed funds. Return loans can be from a service contract with NOVATEK, one of the interlocutors of Kommersant notes, but the gas company has an idea to build its icebreaking fleet in order not to pay Atomflot. Leonid Mikhelson, the head and co-owner of NOVATEK, spoke at the SPIEF-2018 about plans for the construction of ice-breakers, and in May the company's board of directors approved the creation of the Marine Arctic Transportation Company (MAT), which will own and manage the fleet for LNG export via the NSR. In NOVATEK, Kommersant was informed that they are studying the issue of the independent construction and operation of icebreakers on LNG, the project is in line with the development strategy in terms of increasing the competencies for transporting products in the Arctic region.

Director of the consulting center "Gekon" Mikhail Grigoriev notes that the situation is twofold. He explains that Atomflot is beyond the competence of the operator of the nuclear icebreaking fleet, carrying out the project "Portoflot" to ensure the shipment from the port of Sabetta "Yamal LNG" (four icebreaking tugs are built, the construction of a diesel icebreaker is being completed) and planning the construction and operation of icebreakers on LNG . But the plans of NOVATEK regarding MAT LLC are not clear - will it independently build icebreakers and operate with them, the expert adds. Given the lack of crew, it is important that there is no personnel cannibalism between NOVATEK and Atomflot, Mr. Grigoriev notes. He also says that the autonomy of ships on LNG is limited, and icebreakers will serve the southwest of the Kara Sea with obvious bunkering in Sabetta, which makes FSUE dependent on NOVATEK.