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Russia’s most powerful icebreaker to cost over $1 bln

Russia’s new 120 MW icebreaker called Leader is expected to break the ice of 4.3 meters thick while moving uninterruptedly and an ice cap of 2 meters

ARKHANGELSK, March 30. /TASS/. Russia’s new 120 MW icebreaker called Lider (Leader) will cost about 70 billion rubles (about $1.2 billion), Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Tsybulsky said on the sidelines of an international Arctic forum on Thursday.

"The projected cost of this leader icebreaker is about 70 billion rubles," the deputy minister said at the Arctic - Territory of Dialog forum in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk.

As the deputy economy minister said, "if we speak about the serious development of the Northern Sea Route, we need an icebreaker that will allow making it a year-round route and a leader icebreaker is needed for its full-fledged functioning."

Such an icebreaker will widen the area of leading a caravan of vessels through the ice and allow a larger number of different-class ships to sail along the Northern Sea Route, he added.

The discussion about the need of building such an icebreaker should center on when it should be constructed, the deputy economy minister said. "Do we need a leader icebreaker now or is it possible to build two ordinary icebreakers with a capacity of 60 MW each? This is the issue, which colleagues from the Industry and Trade Ministry are discussing now," the deputy economy minister said.

The world’s largest icebreaker is currently the 60MW vessel, which the Baltic Shipyard (part of Russia’s United Ship-Building Corporation) is constructing. Its cost amounts to about 47 billion rubles ($835 million).

United Ship-Building Corporation CEO Alexei Rakhmanov said on Wednesday that the construction of the LK-120 Lider nuclear-powered icebreaker might take three years and a half.

According to the CEO, the icebreaker can be built either at the Baltic Shipyard (in case of its modernization) or at the Severnaya Verf, with its construction to be completed at the Baltic Shipyard.

As Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Vasily Osmakov said, estimates show that three icebreakers currently under construction will be able to make up for the region’s requirements only partially.

The Iceberg Central Design Bureau has prepared the Lider icebreaker’s conceptual design and has been developing the Lider LK-120 nuclear-powered icebreaker technical project since the autumn of 2016. Technical designing is scheduled to be over in December 2017.

According to data of Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry, expected freight traffic in the Arctic will amount to about 40 million tonnes by 2025, considering that new hydrocarbon deposits are launched into operation on Yamal Peninsula while the transportation of hydrocarbons and the transit of cargoes will yield commercial effect, if transport vessels are led at a speed of no less than 10-11 knots.

The Lider icebreaker is expected to break the ice of 4.3 meters thick while moving uninterruptedly and the ice cap of 2 meters at a commercially effective speed of 11-12 knots.

Three new icebreakers

Three Russian operational icebreakers will have their service life expire by 2020. They are expected to give way to three nuclear-powered icebreakers: the lead vessel Arktika and also two serial-produced vessels Siberia and Ural. All the vessels are under construction at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg on order from Rosatomflot, the operator of the country’s nuclear-powered icebreakers and part of Rosatom civilian nuclear power corporation. The project is estimated at 122 billion rubles ($2.2 billion).

Russian shipyards will be ready by late 2017 to start the construction of the 120 MW icebreaker, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Vasily Osmakov told TASS on the sidelines of the international Arctic forum on Thursday.

"We will be ready to build at the end of this year," he said, noting that the preparation of the technical design would be completed by the yearend.

As the deputy industry and trade minister said, the period of 2017-2018 is the term for making a final decision on whether new orders for icebreakers will be placed and which machines will be ordered - for 60 MW or for 120 MW.

Russian shipyards can start building a 60MW icebreaker at any time as they have the relevant competences, he said.