Helsinki Shipyard building LNG-powered icebreaker for Russia’s Nornickel

Finland’s Helsinki Shipyard said it plans to start building this year a new LNG-powered icebreaker for Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel).

The shipbuilder said in a statement on Tuesday it has completed purchasing contracts for the main equipment of Nornickel’s icebreaker contracted last year, along with model tests in ice and open water for the icebreaker design developed by Aker Arctic.

Nornickel would use the vessel in the Yenisei River basin, Yenisei Bay and the Kara Sea securing access to Dudinka seaport both for its own fleet and its partners, the statement said.

According to the shipbuilder, the vessel’s home port would be in Murmansk.

“The icebreaker’s mission is to make the channel in Yenisei river for Nornickel Arctic Expresses (Arc7) and tow additionally employed fleet of cargo ships Arc5 class with up to 20,000 tons deadweight,” it said.

Dual-fuel diesel-electric

The new icebreaker would have an integrated dual-fuel diesel-electric power plant, which can use both LNG and low-sulfur diesel oil as fuel with “good energy efficiency and low emissions,” Helsinki Shipyard said.

Helsinki Shipyard will build the ship under the class notation Icebreaker 8 of the Russian Maritime Register (RMRS). The vessel will have the capability of breaking 2 m thick snow-covered ice when operating either ahead or astern.

It would also have facilities for transporting cargo and supporting helicopter operations, the shipbuilder said.

Delivery in 2024

Helsinki Shipyard said it has developed the concept design of the new vessel in cooperation with Aker Arctic Technology.

The yard said that the design work continues to proceed as per schedule.

It plans to start construction work on the vessel this year in order to deliver it to the owner in the winter season of 2025.

The employment impact of the contract at the shipyard and in the marine industry network is about 2,100 person years, the shipyard said.

Also, the contract “is significant for Helsinki Shipyard and brings stability to the shipyard’s order book, extending it to the end of 2024,” the yard said, but it did not reveal the price tag of the deal.

“Receiving new icebreaker by the end of 2024 is very important for Nornickel as it provides additional transportation capacities needed to implement both our strategic investment projects including the city of Norilsk renovation plans,” senior VP of Norilsk Nickel, Sergey Dubovitskiy, said in the statement.

“And we are happy to declare that it’s going to be fueled by LNG which goes in line with current environmental trends on decarbonization and will be a pioneer icebreaker on LNG exploited at Nothern Sea Route,” Dubovitskiy said.

Nornickel’s LNG plans

Last year, Nornickel said it has signed a deal to build one LNG-powered icebreaker which would escort ships carrying the company’s cargo along the Northern Sea Route.

The firm signed the agreement of intent to design and build the vessel with Russian state nuclear energy firm Rosatom and the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center (FESRC), part of Rosneft.

Prior to that, Nornickel also revealed plans to build a small-scale LNG plant in the Murmansk region as it looks to convert its heavy mining equipment to dual-fuel technology.

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