VTB and Sberbank will spend hundreds of billions of rubles of their depositors on fake icebreakers

Rosatom has signed memorandums of intent with VTB and Sberbank. To build three icebreakers of the "Leader" type, no less than 300 billion rubles will be required, and experts doubt their expediency.
"Rosatom" began to raise funding for the construction of a new icebreaker fleet, signing memorandums with Sberbank and VTB. First of all, we are talking about the most powerful icebreakers "Leader" worth about 100 billion rubles. each, which, according to the company, should provide year-round navigation on the Northern Sea Route. According to experts, the fact of negotiations with banks confirms the economic feasibility of the project, but the interlocutors of "Kommersant" in the industry still doubt the prospects and real capabilities of the "Leader".

VTB is ready to join financing the construction of the icebreaker "Leader", which should become the most powerful and expensive in history. The bank signed a memorandum with Rosatom on financing the construction of the icebreaking fleet. It is about providing leasing financing, lending, bank guarantees and other financial instruments. Deputy Chairman of the Board of VTB Valery Lukyanenko said that the bank is negotiating to finance the construction of new nuclear icebreakers "Leader" and two new universal nuclear icebreakers LK-60. VTB specified to Kommersant that Atomflot, the operator of the nuclear icebreaking fleet, is considering the possibility of constructing two serial LK-60 icebreakers (costing about 50 billion rubles each), as well as three Leder icebreakers (cost 70-100 billion rubles each). It is premature to talk about the terms of financing, they added to the bank.

Sberbank is considering the possibility of participating in the project, Kommersant was told there - an appropriate memorandum with Rosatom was signed at SPIEF-2018.

The 120 MW "Leader" is to become the only icebreaker in the world for year-round wiring of vessels along the Northern Sea Route with an ice thickness of over 4 m, laying a corridor up to 50 m wide and conducting caravans at a speed of 10-12 knots. Now it is planned to build a head ship with a bookmark no later than 2020, in order to surrender it in 2027. As specified by "Kommersant" in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the possibility of building two more serial "Leaders" will be worked out later. In September, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that by the decision of the Russian president, the "Leaders" would be built at the "Zvezda" shipyard in the Far East.

The main problem in the discussion of this project was the high cost of the vessel and the lack of money for it in the budget in full. It follows from the approved draft federal budget that in order to build two icebreakers "Leader" in 2023, 33.3 billion rubles will be allocated.

At the same time, Kommersant sources in the industry repeatedly expressed skepticism about the prospects and real capabilities of the "Leader". The technical design of the vessel is still not ready, the economic effect has not been calculated, and there are no guarantees that the icebreaker will be really capable of providing year-round navigation, Kommersant sources noted, adding that there are no competencies for the construction of nuclear icebreakers at Zvezda, and the shipyard itself has not yet been built.

The attraction of bank financing suggests that Rosatom made an assessment of the economic feasibility of investments, taking into account that the main task of new icebreakers is to ensure the projects of NOVATEK, says the head of the Gekon consulting center Mikhail Grigoriev. The planned year-round navigation is focused mainly on the wiring of large-capacity and wide-body gas carriers of the ice class Arc7, other consumers of year-round services are not visible, as there are very few vessels of this class, Mr. Grigoriev explains. He assumes that the scheme for financing new icebreakers will be similar to the agreement on the icebreaker piloting of the Portoflot vessels for Yamal LNG, a long-term contract for financing the construction of ships. But, the expert notes, three "Leaders" may not be enough: NOVATEK plans to bring 20 million tons of LNG to the terminal in Kamchatka, which means more than 500 gas carrier flights (including ballast return), two thirds of which will require icebreaker wiring.