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Will Rosatom cope with the nuclear-powered icebreakers?

Will Rosatom cope with the nuclear-powered icebreakers? 04.05.2008
Russian nuclear power giant Rosatom will take over the management of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet from August this year. Regional authorities in Murmansk Oblast fear that the takeover of the vessels is badly prepared for and that the process has gone too quickly.

Since 1994, the state-owned fleet of eight nuclear-powered icebreakers has been managed by the Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCO). Also several other nuclear-powered vessels, among them the Sevmorput container ship, have been managed by the MSCO. Now, federal authorities have decided that the fleet will be transferred to the Rosatom company.

The transfer of management responsibilities for the fleet has stirred major reactions in Murmansk. Regional governor Yuri Yevdokimov has himself said that the decision to transfer the fleet to a new operator has “not been prepared for the proper way” and that the process has gone “unnecessarily quickly”, Expert.ru reports.

Federal interests, regional interests

Russian federal authorities officially reason the transfer of management of the fleet with reported economic mismanagement by the Murmansk Shipping Company. Several control inspections of the company have concluded that the company has run the strategically important fleet inefficiently and even to the disadvantage of Russian state interests.

The federals also argue that the MSCO has its own economic interests with the nuclear-powered fleet and that these might easily conflict with the interests of other Russian companies. The MSCO on the other hand argues that it has 40 years of experiences with nuclear-powered vessels and that it therefore is the best suited.

The company also underlines that federal authorities over a number of years have failed to invest in the fleet and that the MSCO has been left alone with maintenance. The Murmansk Shipping Company has got parts of its necessary incomes from the nuclear powered icebreakers by offering tourist trips to the North Pole.

Northern Shipping Route

The management transfer of the fleet comes as focus is increasing on the Northern Shipping Route, and as Russian state and corporate interests has Arctic waters higher on their agenda. Although the state owns 25,5 percent of the MSCO, the takeover by Rosatom will still mean a strengthening of Russia state interests in the North. The icebreakers will for many years ahead be vital for shipping along the 13,000 km long Russian northern coast.

Source: www.barentsobserver.com, photo: Icebreaker "Vaigach" (msco)

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