Court seizes floating nuclear plant

15 August 2011

The world's first floating nuclear power plant, currently under construction, has been seized by the Court of Arbitration of Saint Petersburg as the shipyard building it faces bankruptcy proceedings.


The largest shareholder in the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard, with an 88.3% stake, is United Industrial Corporation, which is owned by Sergei Pugachev. This stake has been pledged to Russia's Central Bank as collateral for an unreturned loan to International Industrial Bank, another Pugachev-controlled company which was declared bankrupt in November 2010. The shipyard therefore appears on the brink of bankruptcy.


At the request of Rosenergoatom, the court has now impounded the partly-built vessel at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard. Rosenergoatom was afraid that it could lose its investment in the 9.8 billion rouble ($340 million) project if another claimant seized the shipyard's assets during bankruptcy proceedings. The Arbitration Court - an independent permanent court under the St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry - ruled in Rosenergoatom’s favour on 26 July that the company stood a "significant risk" of losing its investment in the project.


Although the vessel - the Akademik Lomonosov - has already been registered in the name of Baltiysky Zavod as a ship under construction, Rosenergoatom is seeking to have it re-registered in its name as it claims it is the rightful owner. The vessel, it says, has been built using its funds. A certificate of ownership in Rosenergoatom's name would prevent the floating plant being seized as part of Baltiysky Zavod's assets.


In addition, Rosenergoatom claims that the shipyard's risk and civil liability insurance for the construction of the floating plant has expired and that Baltiysky Zavod has failed to fulfil its obligation to provide Rosenergoatom with a bank guarantee of return of advanced payments. The court also noted confirmation of the "financial hardship" of the shipyard.


The arbitration court sided with Rosenergoatom and ruled that taking possession of the Akademik Lomonosov on the company's behalf was justified.


The keel was originally laid for the first floating plant at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk in April 2007. However, in 2008, Rosatom said that it was to transfer its construction to Baltiysky Zavod because Sevmash was inundated with military contracts. A contract was signed in February 2009 between Rosatom and Baltiysky Zavod for completion of the plant. Construction of the plant has since progressed, with the turbo-generators recently being installed. The two 35 MW KLT-40S nuclear reactors - similar to those used in Russia's nuclear-powered ice breakers - have already been assembled and delivered to the shipyard ready for installation.


Despite the seizure, a Rosatom spokesman told the Moscow Times, "Work is continuing as normal, and I think it should be commissioned on schedule by 2012."


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News