• 4 minutes China 2019 - Orwell was 35 years out
  • 7 minutes Wonders of US Shale: US Shale Benefits: The U.S. leads global petroleum and natural gas production with record growth in 2018
  • 11 minutes Trump will capitulate on the trade war
  • 14 minutes Glory to Hong Kong
  • 2 hours Yesterday Angela Merkel stopped Trump technology war on China – the moral of the story is do not eavesdrop on ladies with high ethical standards
  • 13 mins China's Blueprint For Global Power
  • 5 hours IMO 2020:
  • 6 hours World Stocks Drop And Futures Tread Water After China Reports Worst GDP Growth In 30 Years
  • 14 hours National Geographic Warns Billions Face Shortages Of Food And Clean Water Over Next 30 Years
  • 11 hours Why did Aramco Delay IPO again ? It's Not Always What It Seems.
  • 14 hours ABC of Brexit, economy wise, where to find sites, links to articles ?
  • 14 hours Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, Ukraine Oil & Gas exploration company Burisma, and 2020 U.S. election shenanigans
  • 7 hours Deepwater GOM Project Claims Industry First
  • 17 hours Why don't the other GOP candidates get mention?
  • 16 hours Bloomberg: shale slowing. Third wave of shale coming.
  • 16 hours PETROLEUM for humanity 
Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is an independent journalist, covering oil and gas, energy and environmental policy, and international politics. He is based in Portland, Oregon. 

More Info

Premium Content

Russia To Power Arctic Drilling With Floating Nuclear Reactors

It would sit in the icy waters of the Arctic, and provide a constant supply of electricity to a massive rig drilling for oil. They could be mass produced, potentially cutting the cost of drilling projects. The twist? The electricity on these floating power plants would come from a nuclear reactor.

Russia is looking to deploy a floating nuclear reactor that could help power ports, industries, and also offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. In what sounds like a horrible nightmare for environmentalists, floating nuclear reactors could help produce more oil in the Arctic.

Russia’s reactor, called the Akademik Lomonosov, will be about the length of one and a half football fields, and will have the capacity to produce 70 megawatts of electricity. It is not self-propelled, but future mobile reactors will be. Russia plans on mass producing them once the Akademik Lomonosov proves itself. The small floating reactors will be on icebreakers, so they will be able to navigate icy Arctic waters. Related: How To Spot An Undervalued Oil Company

Construction began on the Akademik Lomonosov in 2007, but has suffered delays. But Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said during a recent trip to the Arctic that Russia hopes to have a floating nuclear reactor running by October 2016. It will provide power to the Arctic town of Pevek in the East Siberian Sea. “It is basically an atomic reactor that can be docked to coastal infrastructure, and it will provide energy through a cable to any Arctic city,” Rogozin said.

According to Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom, at least 15 countries, including China, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and Argentina, are interested in deploying floating nuclear reactors as well. In fact, last year, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Shanghai, Russia and China signed an agreement to cooperate on building a floating nuclear power plant. Related: Putin Betting On An Argentinian Shale Boom

A Canadian company Dunedin Energy Systems is proposing something similar. The Ontario-based company wants to sell small floating nuclear reactors in Canada’s far north that would provide a power source for remote mining projects. Dunedin’s President points out that floating nuclear reactors are safe and have been around since the 1950’s when the USS Nautilus, a nuclear-powered submarine hit the high seas.

Floating nuclear power plants would provide companies drilling for oil and gas or extracting minerals an energy source in faraway places. They would not need to be refueled for an extended period of time and the power supply would be constant. The floating reactors would be towed – or would self-propel – into place and then be easily removed when a drilling project is finished. Dunedin argues the cost would be much lower than diesel-powered generators. Until one is actually up and running, however, the economics are far from proven.

Drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic is tremendously expensive and difficult. Floating reactors could theoretically make it easier. If Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov demonstrates its usefulness, that could accelerate the pace of drilling. Related: Former BP Chief Sees Oil Price Rebound Soon

In American waters, however, it is hard to see how anything would change for the foreseeable future. Royal Dutch Shell is the only company with any realistic plans to drill in the near term. In large part due to its own mistakes, Shell has already been delayed by regulatory hurdles. But if it, or any other company, were to consider using floating nuclear power plants off the coast of Alaska, it would face a whole new set of regulatory challenges. That probably means floating nuclear power plants are not coming to the U.S. Arctic anytime soon, even if Russia starts ramping up production of them.

On the other hand, if Russia starts drilling at a quicker pace in the Arctic due to these floating reactors, that would in turn put pressure on American lawmakers to make it more attractive for oil companies to drill in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, out of a fear of falling behind. That could lead to Congress or the administration slashing regulations and/or selling off more offshore Arctic acreage.

Much remains to be seen. Russia’s floating nuclear power plant has been a struggle to complete, and it may not live up to the hype. But if it delivers, it could alter the course of Arctic drilling.

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment
  • vaengineer on April 28 2015 said:
    Floating nuclear reactors. What could possibly go wrong?
  • apneaman on April 29 2015 said:
    Giant Waves Quickly Destroy Arctic Ocean Ice and Ecosystems
    The biggest waves seen in northern sea ice show how this vital cover can be crushed much faster than expected

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/giant-waves-quickly-destroy-arctic-ocean-ice-and-ecosystems1/

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play