Russia plans to use nuclear-powered drilling submarine in the Arctic

The Russian program for oil production in Arctic includes plans on using a nuclear-powered drilling submarine.


This appears in a report written by the Russian oceanographer and expert on Russian energy safety Vladislav Lavin on behalf of the Environmental Foundation Bellona. Mr. Lavin emphasizes that this information is open, and has been presented at a conference on nuclear power in Russia organized by the Ministry of Atomic Energy.

According to the report, the plan for development of the Leningradskoye Field in the Kara Sea includes use of a manned, nuclear-powered submarine that can move between one well to another, attached to a fixed frame on the sea bottom. When the drilling is finished, underwater installations for production can be attached.

The submarine in the plan is 99 meters long, 31 meters wide and 33 meters high. The design is based on post-soviet rejected plans to reconstruct navy submarines into underwater container ships.

The benefits of being under water during drilling is that one can escape weather and ice, which make a big challenge to everyone planning oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. But Bellona believes the disadvantages of using nuclear power exceed the benefits.

- It is neither profitable, smart or environmentally justifiable, Vladislav Lavin says and adds that it is up to Gazprom’s international partners to refuse this practice.