Russian mining giant Nornickel, the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper, along with other Russian organisations; Rosatom State Corporation and the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC, part of Rosneft Oil Company) have signed an agreement of intent to design and build a dual-fuel diesel-LNG icebreaker to escort ships carrying Nornickel’s cargo along the Northern Sea Route. The agreement was signed at the Eastern Economic Forum.
Nornickel, the largest industrial company in the Russian Arctic, has unique expertise in operating the Northern Sea Route, a strategic transport artery of the global logistics system. In 2020, the Nornickel fleet transported over 1.5 million tonnes of cargo along the Northern Sea Route, which accounts for around 5% of the Route’s total cargo turnover.
The turnover of the Arctic ports of Dudinka and Murmansk is growing. Nornickel has been modernising and expanding infrastructure in port cities, as well as increasing and renewing its fleet to handle the increased cargo traffic. The new LNG icebreaker will enable Nornickel to replace the Taimyr-type vessel that will be decommissioned in 2027–2029.
The agreement of intent with Rosatom and FESRC is aimed at building cooperation between leading Russian companies with the goal of solving national-scale problems, including the implementation of investment projects in the Russian Arctic, the Northern Sea Route infrastructure development and growing cargo turnover, as well as the launch of LNG icebreaker production in Russia.
The parties will form a working group to develop terms of reference for the LNG icebreaker design and construction, select a shipyard, and consider financing options. By mid-2022, the working group is expected to prepare a draft contract for the vessel design and construction.
Vladimir Potanin, Nornickel President, commented: “The icebreaker fleet is the flagship of large-scale modernisation of transport infrastructure in the Norilsk Industrial District. Nornickel is increasing the volume of traffic to efficiently implement strategic investment projects in the region. The new icebreaker will help the company to meet its ambitious goals, and the agreement will serve as an important step in building partnerships between leading Russian companies in the development of the Arctic.”
Earlier this year, Nornickel and Rosatom signed an agreement that would extend the period for the provision of icebreaking services.