Nornickel expands on Northern Sea Route

Nornickel operates the seaport of Dudinka.(Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The company intends to build several icebreakers and invest 26 billion rubles in its Dudinka seaport.

The world’s leading producer of nickel aims for a boost in deliveries from its far northern mines and metallurgy plants and now plans a major upgrade of its regional infrastructure.

The plans include the building of at least one LNG-powered icebreaker, as well as a fleet of new icebreaking vessels for seaport operations. In addition, Nornickel will take part in the development of a new nuclear-powered icebreaker, the company informs.

The mining and metallurgy giant will also invest heavily in infrastructure in Dudinka, the seaport on the Yenisey River that serves the industry facilities in Taymyr. According to TASS, up to 26 billions rubles (€300 million) will over the next years be spent on a comprehensive facelift that includes a full modernization of the seaport cranes.

The port of Dudinka. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Key partner in the infrastructure upgrade is state nuclear power company Rosatom. The two companies in late July signed a deal that outlines an exchange of services and joint development of new ships.

According to the agreement, the parts are to assess the possible joint construction of a nuclear-powered icebreaker that can replace the aging vessels Taymyr and Vaygach, and also jointly build the seaport icebreakers that can replace Nornickel’s current capacities.

The new LNG-powered icebreaker developed by Nornickel is to be operated by Rosatom. And a 15-year deal on escort services from Rosatom’s new LK60 icebreaker (Project 22220) is envisaged.

“Our new and ambitious project on the modernization of production, improvement of the environmental situation and renovation of [the city of] Norilsk, requires not only large-scale investments but also reliable infrastructure, including in the field of transportation,” says Nornickel Vice-President Sergei Dubovitsky.

The cooperation with Rosatom will positively affect the Russian state program on the development of the Arctic, Dubovitsky argues.

According to the company leader, the new icebreakers are direly needed. The expansion and modernization of the icebreaking fleet is “a critical and urgent task,” he told Kommersant.

Four LNG-powered icebreakers likely by year 2030

Nornickel is not the only private company now engaged in development of new icebreakers. Also natural gas company Novatek is in the process of planning construction of LNG-powered icebreakers. The same applies for oil companies, as well as coal companies.

According to Vyacheslav Ruksha, leader of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate, there is likely to be built four LNG-powered icebreakers by year 2030. Two of them will be funded by Novatek, one by Nornickel and one by an oil or coal company, he told Kommersant.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada:  44 per cent increase in unique ships entering Canada’s Northwest Passage, says report, Eye on the Arctic

Estonia: Estonian president favorable towards Arctic railway project, cautious about future of Arctic shipping, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Lapland Regional Council in Finland rejects Arctic railway, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Shipping, climate & business opportunities in the North: Q&A with the Arctic Economic Council, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Moscow plans for 2,000 per cent growth of trans-Arctic shipping over 10 years, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Sweden expects population boom from green investments, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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