Russia to Export 100m tons of LNG by 2030

Russia’s operator of nuclear icebreakers, Atomflot, is looking to extend the lifetime of its two oldest vessels, Taimyr and Vaigach.

Both icebreakers had their reactor time increased from 200,000 hours to 235,000 hours in 2021. Now Rosatomflot is planning a further extension of 25,000 hours. This change would push the vessels’ retirement from 2027/28 to 2031/32.

With shipping volume forecasted to increase exponentially in the coming 3-5 years according to Russian authorities, to 80m tons by 2024 and 150m tons by 2030, Russia can not afford to retire two nuclear icebreakers. 

The two vessels are key to operating and escorting bulk, LNG and oil carriers in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Ob and the Yenisey Gulf. Ships transporting nickel from Norilsk Nickel and crude oil from Gazprom Neft’s Novoportovskoye project rely on the icebreakers to keep shipping lanes open during winter and spring.

More Arctic-capable vessels

Shipping traffic across the Arctic has seen substantial increase over the past decade, with Norwegian and Russian waters in the High North experiencing double-digit annual growth. Traffic in Norway’s Barents and Norwegian Seas has grown more than four-fold over the ten-year period from 2009-2018.

An increase in shipping along the NSR, naturally also means a greater number of vessels in Norway’s waters. And more ice-capable ships are being readied.

According to the Russian Maritime Register the number of ice-capable vessels ready to sail the Northern Sea Route, will expand significantly in the coming years. Currently more than 50 ships with an ice-class of Arc4 or higher are under construction.

These include a combination of lower ice-class Arc4 and higher class Arc7 oil and LNG carriers for both Rosneft’s Vostok Oil project and Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2.

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