atw 2018-03v6


atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 3 ı March


the summary demand of future oil & gas rigs on the Russian

Arctic shelf may be quite high. About 40 % of this demand

can be covered by underwater feeder cables, but this

option is limited by distances below 200 km from the

shore. Another 60% from rigs situated beyond this distance

can be covered by autonomous underwater/sub-ice power

plants. As concerns this application, small autonomous

reactors seem to have no alternative [7].

By the end of 1980-ies, the USSR already had a concept

of underwater NPP with small reactor units [8]. Table 3

lists some nuclear facilities proposed by the leading

Russian design companies for application on oil & gas


Basic parameters

Submarine tanker Carrying capacity – 20,000 t,

propeller power – 30 MW


nuclear compressor


Underwater station

for LNG production

Nuclear drill


| | Tab. 3.

SMR designs under development.

Displacement – 7,500 m 3 ,

compressor output – 40 MW,

continuous unmanned operation time

– 10,000 hours

The station includes: tankers,

gas storages, liquefaction units,

nuclear power facilities, terminals etc.

Displacement – 20,000 m 3 ,

reactor capacity – 6 MWe

fields in heavy ice conditions.

In late 2017, the media have published some information

on the Iceberg project developed by the Rubin and

OKBM Afrikantov design bureaus: a 24-MW underwater

NPP capable of autonomous unmanned operation for a

year (total lifetime 30 years). This NPP is intended as a

power source for oil/gas drill and extraction rigs in areas

with thick ice – in fact, this is a return to one of unique

unimplemented designs of the eighties.

In the developers’ opinion, nuclear energy supplies to

underwater/sub-ice oil/gas production on the Arctic shelf

should be based on system approach (“made in factory and

shipped to sites”), with a maximum use of long operating

experience of nuclear ships. This would enable:

• no atmospheric releases plus localization and

minimization of heat impact on the Arctic Ocean water

to negligible values (compared to natural temperature


• lower risk of oil spills – that cannot be efficiently

liquidated by available technologies – in ice con ditions;

• higher reliability and safety of power facilities;

• minimized workforce requirements (up to total


• efficient and safe offshore operation under water/ice at

distances of 1,000 km from the coast and beyond.

The policy currently implemented by the government with

regard to the Arctic region, as well as the scientific and

technical experience accumulated by Russia, both allow

for confident conclusion that considerable advances in the

development of nuclear power facilities for the Arctic are

to be expected in the short term.


1. Kurchatov Specialists and Atomic Fleet. Editor: M.V. Kovalchuk,

NRC KI, Moscow, 2016 (in Russian).

2. Status of Small and Medium-Sized Reactor Designs. A

Supplement to the IAEA Advanced Reactor Information System

(ARIS). IAEA, 2012

3. Russia’s Nuclear Energy Strategy to 2050. NRC KI, Moscow, 2013

(in Russian).

4. M.V. Kovalchuk. Arctic Vector of Russian Energy. Priroda, 2016

(in Russian).

5. V.V. Petrunin et al.: Prospects for Small and Medium Nuclear

Power Plants: a New Development Area. In: Small Nuclear Power

Plants a New Development Area, IBRAE, Moscow, 2015

(in Russian).

6. A.I. Alekseev et al.: Uniterm SMR: a Frontline Area of Nuclear

Power Development. In: Small Nuclear Power Plants a New

Development Area, IBRAE, Moscow, 2015 (in Russian).

7. E.P. Velikhov et al. Nuclear Energy for the Arctic Shelf. V Mire

Nauki, v.10, 2015 (in Russian).

8. V.S. Nikitin, V.S. Ustinov et al.: Nuclear Energy in the Arctic Region.

The Arctic: Ecology and Economy, v.4(20), 2015 (in Russian).


Andrej Yurjewitsch Gagarinskiy

National Research Centre “Kurchatov Institute”

Moscow, Russian Federatio

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