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Russia's Rosatom to expand icebreaker fleet

Rosatom's icebreakers provided safe waterways to 410 ships with a total cargo capacity of 5.3 million tonnes through the Northern Sea Route in 2016

ARKHANGELSK, March 31. /TASS/. Russia’s nuclear power corporation Rosatom will expand its nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet as the deadlines for commissioning a number major projects draw near and the implementation of the Northern Sea Route development concept goes ahead. Rosatom will have to order up to five nuclear-powered icebreakers of a new generation - Leader, the corporation’s CEO Aleksey Likhachev has told TASS.

"As far as the fleet’s further expansion is concerned, we are to order more effective icebreakers, the Leader class ones, for instance. It makes no sense to make just one pilot project without having plans for its eventual serial production. Indeed, three to five icebreakers of a new generation will have to be built. But a decision to lay the keel of the first Leader icebreaker is to be made first," Likhachev said.

He added the decision was to be made by the government. The project would require substantial government support, he added.

Likhachev did not specify the likely costs of the Leader icebreaker project, adding that it would be more expensive than the The Arktika, currently under construction, which cost the corporation 37 billion rubles ($600 mln). Earlier, Deputy Economic Development Minister Aleksandr Tsybulsky said the icebreaker of project 10510 (leader) equipped with a 120-megawatt power plant will cost 70 billion rubles ($1.2 bln) to build.

The Leader icebreaker will be twice more powerful than any of the current ones. Also, it will be thrice wider, which will enable it to escort far larger ships.

The Northern Sea Route 

Rosatom's icebreakers provided safe waterways to 410 ships with a total cargo capacity of 5.3 million tonnes through the Northern Sea Route in 2016, Likhachev said.

"In 2015, with the support of the Rosatom nuclear fleet, 195 vessels with a total cargo capacity of 2 million tonnes were navigated along the Northern Sea Route, in 2016 this number was already 410 vessels and the cargo volume reached 5.3 million tonnes. I think that in 2017, this increase will be maintained, because there are relevant contracts, "he said.

According to the forecast of Rosatom, in 3-5 years the volume of cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route may grow up to 35 million tonnes.

"The demand for this route has been confirmed by such major projects as Yamal LNG, which is implemented by Novatek and development of the Novoportovskoye field by Gazprom Neft," Likhachev said.

The Northern Sea Route - is the main sea route in the Russian Arctic. The Russian Ministry of Transport forecasts cargo turnover along the Northern Sea Route by 2020 will grow tenfold to 65 million tons per year. The route crosses seas of the Arctic Ocean (Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukotka) and partially the Pacific Ocean (the Bering Sea). The Northern Sea Route from the Kara Gate to the Providence Bay is about 5,600 km long. The distance between Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok along the Northern Sea Route is more than 14,000 km, while the distance vessels cover by the Suez Canal is more than 23,000 km.