Russian nickel and palladium mining company Nornickel has signed a deal to build an LNG-fueled icebreaker to escort ships carrying its cargo on the Northern Sea Route.

Nornickel signed this agreement with state frim Rosatom and the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC), a part of Rosneft oil company.

The deal was signed at the Eastern Economic Forum. Firstly, it concerns the design and building of a dual-fuel diesel-LNG icebreaker to escort ships carrying Nornickel’s cargo along the Northern Sea Route.

The new LNG-fueled icebreaker will enable Nornickel to replace the Taimyr-type vessel that will be decommissioned in 2027–2029.

Secondly, the agreement aims to build cooperation between leading Russian companies with the goal of solving national-scale problems. This includes the implementation of investment projects in the Russian Arctic, the Northern Sea Route infrastructure development, and growing cargo turnover. Also, it concerns the launch of LNG icebreaker production in Russia.

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In 2020, the Nornickel fleet transported over 1.5 megatonnes of cargo along the Northern Sea Route. This accounts for around 5 per cent of the Route’s total cargo turnover.

Moreover, the parties will form a working group to develop terms of reference for the LNG icebreaker design and construction. It will also select a shipyard, and consider financing options.

The working group will prepare a draft contract for the vessel design and construction by mid-2022.

Earlier this year, Nornickel and Rosatom signed an agreement that would extend the period for the provision of icebreaking services. 

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