News review of the events on the NSR
#1 August 2019

1. Nuclear container ship Sevmoput is under loading with fish

In late August, the world’s only nuclear container ship Sevmorput arrived to Kamchatka Peninsula in order to be loaded with fish products and to deliver it for the first time via the Northern Sea Route from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy to St. Petersburg.
There were 200 empty refrigerated containers on the board. They were loaded with frozen fish, fillets, caviar and other types of fish products. The total weight of the cargo is about 5 thousand tons.

After loading, the ship will pass through the Northern Sea Route directly to St. Petersburg. The transit will take up to 3 weeks.

This voyage became possible with the help of the investment program implemented by NOREBO fishing group with the support of the Government of the Kamchatka region and the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic.

The program included the construction of a marine logistics center in the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, which could accept a large-sized nuclear container ship.

Work began in 2015.

For 4 years, the contractor reconstructed two berthing facilities, installed 2 portal cranes, and built a refrigerating storage. According to the plans of the investor, next year a large-scale reconstruction of the berths will begin, including dredging.

Two voyages via the Northern Sea Route to St. Petersburg and back are planned for this year. Negotiations are underway to organize the regular operation of Sevmorput on this line in 2020.

The authorities of the Kamchatka region believe that the call of the nuclear container ship confirms that the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy is becoming one of the end points of the Northern Sea Route. This will provide an incentive for the development of port infrastructure and entrepreneurship. But still, the main goal is regular cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route through Kamchatka to Asian countries. It will bring economic benefits to all participants in the new logistics scheme.

Nuclear container ship Sevmorput is the only icebreaking transport vessel in the world with a nuclear power plant. It is capable of transporting more than 5,000 tons of any cargo in one voyage.

2. Agreement on the construction of nuclear icebreakers was signed in Murmansk

On August 23, in Murmansk, there was signing of an agreement on the construction of the third and fourth serial atomic icebreakers of project 22220. The document was signed by Atomflot and Baltic Shipyard. The cost of work will be more than 100 billion rubles.

For the first time, the work will be financed according to a mixed scheme: the Russian government will allocate 45 million from the federal budget, the rest is Rosatom and Atomflot.

The delivery dates for icebreakers are December 2024 and December 2026, respectively.

According to Mustafa Kashka, Director General of Atomflot, icebreakers of Project 22220 play a key role in ensuring year-round navigation on the Northern Sea Route and achieving the planned volumes of cargo transportation of 80 million tons by 2024.

Today, Baltic Shipyard is already building the lead and two serial nuclear-powered icebreakers of project 22220. The readiness of “Arktika” icebreaker is 87.7%, “Sibir” 58.5%, and Ural 44%. The commissioning of icebreaker “Arktika” is scheduled for May 2020.

3. The world’s first floating power unit goes along the Northern Sea Route from Murmansk to Chukotka

On August 23 in Murmansk, the ceremony of shipment of the first Russian floating power unit “Akademik Lomonosov” to the place of permanent basing – to the port of Pevek in Chukotka. The unit will become the main element of the new floating nuclear power plant (FNPP). It is planned to be launched before the end of 2019.

During this time, the construction of coastal and hydraulic structures, as well as infrastructure, which will ensure the transfer of electricity to the energy network and heat to the city’s heating system, will be completed in Pevek. In the future, FNPP should replace the decommissioned Chaun Heating and Power Plant (HPP) and Bilibino Atomic Power Station.

According to the Government of the Russian Federation, the deployment of the FNPP in Pevek will create conditions for the accelerated socio-economic development of the Chaun region and Chukotka as a whole.

In addition, the FNPP will become one of the key elements of the infrastructure of the Northern Sea Route.

The floating power unit was built in St. Petersburg, then towed to Atomflot in Murmansk, where it was being prepared for work for a long time. Its main stage was the launch of reactors. The power unit has two of them.

Since «Lomonosov» does not have engines, powerful tugs tow it across the entire Russian Arctic. The first pulls the power unit, the second provides braking at the rear, the third goes nearby as a spare. The average speed of the caravan is 4-5 knots (7-9 kilometers per hour). Thus, the passage should take about three weeks. As a result, “Akademik Lomonosov” will arrive to Chukotka in the second half of September.

4. Russia will create unmanned fleet for the Arctic

The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation decided to start developing a unified technology platform for crewless management of commercial vessels of marine fleets.

It is about using artificial intelligence in shipping. Thus, Russia is trying to keep up with the race around the world to create unmanned ships.

Today they are working on this in the UK, Norway, China, France and other countries.

It is planned to spend 311 million rubles on the development of a unified platform.

The company, which will take on this task, is invited to first create a technical platform for three types of vessels, one of which is intended for navigation along the Northern Sea Route:

– Shuttle tankers of the project R-70046 (series of Arctic tankers);

– self-propelled cargo scows (barges) of the HB900 project (self-propelled barge);

– dry cargo vessels of the RSD59 project (self-propelled dry cargo vessel of sea and
mixed “river / sea” class navigation).

The results of this work are planned to be used in the modernization of commercial Russian ships in 2020.

The report of the Ministry of Industry and Trade explains that the key economic effect is formed by increasing the safety of navigation. The human factor, despite the widespread use of navigation automation technologies, remains the main cause of maritime incidents. According to the largest financial and insurance concerns, the cost of losses due to people’s mistakes during shipping in 2017 amounted to $ 1.6 billion.

Another, no less important effect from the use of the unmanned vessels is a reduction in the cost of shipping companies on the crew by reducing its number and qualification requirements. On average, 30% to 40% of operating costs are for crew maintenance, which is about 10% of total transportation costs. The creation of unmanned vessels will reduce these costs by reducing the watch crew, and in the future, a smaller number of residential infrastructure.

Rosatom also carries out the creation of intelligent tankers that can ship cargoes through the Northern Sea Route. Its division is developing own digital model of a crewless ship, which will be designed to work on the NSR.

5. The Northern Sea Route is among the most interesting cruise routes

The British publication Wanderlust included the Russian Northern Sea Route in the list of 20 most interesting cruise routes in the world. According to the publication, the cruise takes from 25 to 28 days. It is possible to go on such a trip from July to September. The British say that until 2014 the NSR was closed for commercial navigation, and now anyone can go on an unusual cruise.

The journey begins in Russian Anadyr or American Nome (Alaska) and continues along the coast of Russia to Murmansk and back.

On the way, travelers can see Eskimo settlements on Cape Dezhnev, polar bears and walruses, taste the national cuisine of the northern peoples and learn the history of the development of the Arctic.

6. Rosatom and Russian border service agree on cooperation in the Arctic

The agreement on interaction between Rosatom and the Border Service of the Russian Federation was signed in Murmansk on August 23.

As noted in the official statement, the interaction concerns the waters of the Northern Sea Route. It will contribute to improving security in the protection of the internal seas, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of Russia. Nuclear workers and border guards pledged to inform each other in a timely manner about cases of unlawful interference by third parties in the work of sea transport, about the surface situation and so on.

The basis of the interaction will be the creation of an automated control system at the Center for Naviagtion Organization at the Headquarters of Marine Operations of FSUE Atomflot. It will allow the organization of shipping, monitoring of the ice situation and navigation and hydrographic support for the NSR. It was decided that certain elements of the Center will be integrated with the information system of the Border Guard Service. With the help of the system: coordination of interaction between federal executive bodies is already being carried out, the situation is being monitored, situation analysis and development of action algorithms in order to minimize damage from security threats.

7. The Russian government will allow private investors to the Arctic shelf

The Russian government has decided to draft a bill that will expand access for private investors to participate in the development of the Arctic shelf. The order to prepare the document was received by the Ministry of the Far East Development and the Arctic.

It is about Russian investors, since the existing concept of developing the Arctic region does not allow attracting foreign partners there.

Experts familiar with the situation believe that the bill will appear at the request of Lukoil, which in recent years has been the only lobbyist for liberalizing approaches to Arctic exploration projects and the possible development of hydrocarbon deposits.

This company has certain resources and serious experience of offshore operations in difficult conditions, which can be applied in the Arctic. Experts do not yet see other potential applicants for participation in Arctic projects from among Russian private companies. Probably, Lukoil looks at promising projects strategically, realizing the need to attract partners.

So far, only Gazprom and its structures, as well as NOVATEK and a number of coal companies, have the right to develop hydrocarbon reserves in the Russian Arctic.

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