Alexey Mordashov turned off the nuclear engine
The structures of the billionaire are flooded with claims from the manufacturer of unique ice drifts.
Project 22220 for the construction of nuclear ice drifts, not having time to take the fairway, began to drown in litigation. This may call into question the president’s initiative, implemented by the United Shipbuilding Corporation and Rosatom structures. Most of all claims to the authors of the project from Severstal Alexei Mordashov. At the same time, Georgy Semenenko’s Kirov-Energomash, Vladimir Dorokhin’s Ruselprom, Sogas, associated with Yuri Kovalchuk, are involved in litigation.
So the steel was tempered
The Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg recovered 127.6 million rubles of debt from JSC Baltiysky Zavod and another 6.4 million rubles of a penalty and 200 thousand rubles of state duty in favor of JSC Severstal Distribution. Thus, the claim was satisfied in full. The decision can be appealed to the appellate instance, however, according to the file of arbitration cases, no such requests have been received at the moment.
We are talking about the debt under the contract, concluded by the parties at the end of 2020, on the supply of metal for the construction of the Yakutia nuclear icebreaker, the fourth vessel of this type in the country and the third in its series. The enterprise could not pay for the materials received from Severstal. The total amount of the contract is unknown, but it is believed that the metal is about 30% of the cost of the nuclear-powered ship, which in the case of Yakutia is estimated at 15 billion rubles.
The demands made by Severstal can bleed a shipyard that is fulfilling an important state order. Moreover, enough disputes and scandals have already accumulated around nuclear-powered ships – too much for a project that requires a high degree of secrecy.
The construction of nuclear-powered ships is being carried out within the framework of project 22220. As part of it, the Arktika, Sibir and Ural ships have already been put into operation. “Yakutia” was the next in this series, and was launched in November last year in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, work on it has not been completed yet – the ship is being completed afloat, is being prepared for mooring trials and should be put into operation at the end of this year. It is known that in the middle of July the port side steam turbine unit was loaded here.
Now another nuclear ice drift “Chukotka” is being prepared for launching. The project provides for the creation of two more ships – “Kamchatka” and “Sakhalin”, but they are only getting ready for laying.
The construction of ships is carried out by the Baltic Shipyard on the basis of an agreement concluded with FSUE Atomflot (part of the state corporation Rosatom). The total cost of the project as of 2019, when the contract included five nuclear-powered ships, was 100 billion rubles.
Engaged in litigation
Severstal, associated with Alexei Mordashov, is not the first organization that is trying to recover money in connection with the 22220 project. So, back in 2021, Kirov-Energomash Plant JSC (KEM), which is part of the Georgy Semenenko group of companies , tried to recover more than 1 billion rubles from the Baltic Plant through the courts for the supply of turbines. We are talking about the plaintiff’s expenses for the modernization of the test bench, which he was forced to make after, against the background of the aggravation of Russian-Ukrainian relations, the bench tests of equipment planned for 2014 in Kharkov became impossible. As a result, the turbines were delivered to the Arktika only in 2018, two years later than the original deadlines. However, the applicant failed to receive the money at that time – the thirteenth arbitration court of appeal dismissed the complaint.
However, the story didn’t end there. At the end of 2021, Atomflot filed a lawsuit against the Baltic Shipyard in the amount of 418 million rubles. The claims are related to the downtime of the Arktika at the berths in the port of Murmansk due to an accident at a steam turbine plant manufactured by Kirov-Energomash. However, the Arbitration Court of the Murmansk Region also refused to satisfy this claim, and Atomflot’s further complaints to the appellate and cassation instances also failed.
As it became known later, the Baltic Shipyard handed it over to Atomflot – eight months before, the right propeller engine caught fire on board the ship. But the customer accepted the icebreaker with a defect. Propeller motors are manufactured by the electrical engineering concern Ruselprom, which is controlled by Vladimir Dorokhin, but such equipment is usually associated with electric propulsion systems designed and manufactured by the British company Сonvrteam Sas. But at that time, relations with the UK also escalated, and the FSUE Krylov State Research Center took up the development of their analogue. The contract he signed with the Baltic Shipyard involved the development of design and technological documentation, bench tests, as well as installation and commissioning of the entire electric propulsion system. But the left propulsion engine of the Arktika started working, while the right one burned out.
Krylovsky SSC tried to prove through the court that the fault for what happened lay with Ruselprom and its subsidiary JSC Research Design and Technological Institute of Electrical Machine Building (NIPTIEM), they retorted that the cause of the accident was in violations during operation admitted by the plaintiff and the Baltic Shipyard. As a result, Krylovsky SSC dropped the claim.
The insurance company compensated the Baltiysky Zavod for losses due to a burned-out engine, but already in the spring of this year, Sogaz demanded 240 million rubles from the Krylov State Research Center. The Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region accepted the claim for proceedings.
Thus, today Severstal is the only company that managed to recover money through the courts under project 22220. Perhaps Mordashov’s status was sufficient to fight the United Shipbuilding Corporation, created by the Decree of the President, which includes the Baltic Shipyard. In addition, in the file of arbitration cases, you can find other court decisions on the recovery of funds from the enterprise in favor of the metallurgical giant: 1.7 million rubles, 77.5 million rubles, and others. However, it is difficult to determine from the documentation whether these claims are related to the construction of nuclear-powered ships.
Financial results of Severstal for 2022 were not published, but from earlier documents it is clear that the organization’s income was growing. Net profit in 2021 amounted to 272.9 billion rubles, which is 2.4 times more than a year earlier. Despite the fact that the same indicator for 2020 also increased by 8.7% compared to the previous one. While we don’t know the exact numbers for last year, it’s clear that it was a troubled time. Already in March, the organization stopped supplying products to the European Union due to sanctions against Mordashev, while it is known that the metallurgical giant accounted for 31% of sales on the European market. The company announced a change of priorities and reorientation of supplies to North Africa, India and southeastern countries. But even here it was not without difficulties – exports to China grew at first, but then fell off sharply.
By the way, metal prices have also fluctuated quite strongly in recent years, which also affected Severstal’s stability. For example, a ton of hot-rolled sheet as of July 1 cost 73.5 thousand rubles. However, on the same date in 2022, its price tag was 55.5 thousand rubles, in 2021 – 108.5 thousand rubles, in 2020 – 43 thousand rubles. It seems that collecting money from state-owned enterprises is a more stable source of income than planning profits from the main business in such a “swing”.
Severstal’s business cannot be called high-tech. To mine ore at the Yakovlevsky deposit, process it at the Cherepovets metallurgical plant, and then sell it abroad is a much simpler scheme than building a ship, and even more so, a new generation nuclear-powered ship. And the current situation, when the “diggers” of the subsoil feel the right to question the implementation of a high-tech project of unprecedented scale, can have far-reaching consequences.
Moreover, if the experience of the metallurgical giant is adopted by other plaintiffs – what then awaits the entire ambitious state initiative to build nuclear ice drifts, initiated at the highest level and so necessary for building new supply chains with Asian countries against the backdrop of hzikhidtidekrt sanctions.