Rosatom will manage Russia’s Northern Sea Route

The nuclear power company will oversee Russia's Arctic shipping routes.

The logo of Rosatom Corp. is pictured at the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE), the trade fair event for the global nuclear community in Villepinte near Paris, France, June 26, 2018. (Benoit Tessier / Reuters File Photo)

Rosatom has officially been granted the leading role in the development of the vast Russian Arctic. The company, which employs more than 250,000 people and engages in a multitude of activities related to nuclear power development and production, is now formally Russia’s management authority for the Northern Sea Route.

The law was adopted by Russia’s State Duma on Dec. 11 signed by President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 28.

The new legislation comes as Russian Arctic shipping is on rapid increase. In 2018, about 18 million tons of goods were transported on the sea route, an increase of almost 70 percent from 2017. And more is to come. According to Putin’s so-called May Decrees, the top national priorities, shipping on the Northern Sea Route should reach 80 million tons already by year 2024.

Rosatom’s new powers in the Arctic include development and operational responsibilities for shipping, as well as infrastructure and sea ports along the northern Russian coast.

The responsibilities of the Northern Sea Route Administration, which until now has operated under the Ministry of Transport, will now be transferred to Rosatom.

It was Putin himself who in early 2017 said that a coordinating government agency for the Northern Sea Route was needed. A battle between Rosatom and the Ministry of Transport followed. In December 2017, it became clear that the nuclear power company had won that fight.

A central person in the new structure will be Vyacheslav Ruksha, the former leader of the nuclear icebreaker base Atomflot.

The nuclear power company has since 2008 operated the fleet of nuclear-power icebreakers. Currently, five icebreakers are based at Atomflot, in Murmansk, and several more ships are under construction, including four powerful LK-60 vessels.

Rosatom is also in the planning process for a vessel named the Lider, the 120 MW capacity super-powerful ship that can break through two-meter-thick ice at an unprecedented speed of 10-12 knots.