The Russian major producer of non-ferrous metals builds its own fleet. Currently, all cargoes of Norilsk Nickel along the Northern Sea Rout from Taimyr Peninsula to the town of Murmansk are transported by the Murmansk Ocean Company. The volume of this carriage under Arctic conditions is pretty significant and reaches approximately 1.2 million tonnes a year thus bringing the ocean company good profits, which actually amount to one fifth of its entire revenue. However, Norilsk Nickel itself is not satisfied with the shipment service: what with that and the fleet involved is pretty old, and freight costs are overrated (last year the freight costs grew by as much as 30 %).
This mining and processing integrated works has for long cherished a desire to take the sea on its own accord independently of the ocean company’s tariffs. Specialists form Norilsk Nickel has thoroughly considered a possibility to adjust nuclear-powered submarines for freight transportation purposes. However, assuming a necessity to re-equip sea terminals to permit acceptance of the submarines, this project would cost much more than construction of a brand new fleet.
As it was announced by Dmitry Cheskis, the deputy general director of Norilsk Nickel: “With the aim to ensure modern and economically effective conveyance of cargoes the company has decided to start building ships capable of freight transportation under Arctic conditions in an autonomous mode,” i.e. without use of icebreakers assistance.
After keeping an international tender for the new fleet construction Norilsk Nickel has awarded the contract to Finish Kvaerner Masa-Yards, which offered the most optimum concept based on a patented principle of building ships of “dual action”. A prototype of a container ship has already been tested in the Arctic Research Center to show full compliance with the reported design performance of the ship. Ships of this type will be capable of breaking 1.5 m thick ice shield thus creating an ice free sea area around them. It will costs 70 million Euros to build one ship of this type.
In parallel, tests have been successfully completed near St. Petersburg on performance of the first Arctic-type 150 m long container ship for ore transportation. Now it will be tested by Arctic region.
During a period until 2009 Norilsk Nickel is intended to have purchased five container ships of Arctic type and, starting from 2008, to become independent of third party transportation companies. There will appear a new sea terminal in Murmansk for handing export oriented products with a cargo handling capacity of up to 2 million tonnes a year. It will cost the customer $ 40 million to complete this terminal. Availability of its own fleet will permit Norilsk Nickel a 25 to 30 % reduction in its transportation costs.
In the picture: the Norilsk Nickel freight ship during performance tests.