Russian state nuclear power corporation Rosatom has awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract to Chinese yard Wison Offshore & Marine to deliver two hulls for two floating nuclear power plants (FNPP) to be deployed offshore Russia.

The $226 million contract signed this week will commit Wison to delivering the first hull on 2 October 2023 and the second on 2 February 2024.

The workscope also includes the integration of Rosatom-provided topsides including 100-megawatt nuclear reactors and other equipment, such as engines and automation systems for each unit.

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At the end of the year, Rosatom’s subsidiary Atom Energomash will pay Wison 15% of the reported contract value of $226 million as the upfront payment to kick off construction at Wison’s Nantong facilities in eastern China’s Jiangsu province.

Sources said that Wison offered "a very competitive price" in an open bid launched by Rosatom, which was also participated in by other Asian yards, including those in Korea.

They added that Wison won the EPC contract after it offered a price 30% lower than the maximum asking price.

Korea’s Khan Precision Industry offered $324 million while another Chinese yard, Sichuan Honghua, bid $248 million, according to tender disclosure notices.

The notices said that the FNPPs would be deployed near offshore Chukotka, Russia's remote, easternmost region, to provide electricity for one of world’s largest untapped copper mining fields, Baimskaya.

In 2019, Rosatom announced plans to build four FNPPS, with two of them being slated for fabrication through a bidding process and the other two expected to be built at the Baltiysky shipyard in Russia’s St Petersburg.

With a water displacement weight of 19,100 tonnes, the two units to be built at Wison are slightly smaller than 21,500-tonne Akademic Lomonosov, the world’s first FNPP, commissioned by Rosatom in 2019.

It is installed near the port of Pevek on Chukotka region to provide electricity and heating to households and businesses in the town and surrounding areas.

Rosatom has repeatedly refuted criticism about the potential environmental dangers of FNPPs saying that, because of their offshore location, they are better protected from land earthquakes.

Wison in spotlight

Wison is leading the China’s pursuit to improve its global stance in power generation-related floating units.

The yard is involved into a novel floating liquefied natural gas-to-power project in what is the country’s first floating power barge to generate electricity for onshore distribution from gas, sourced from a floating storage and regasification unit.

Under the scheme, marine carriers will unload LNG to the FSRU — which will be permanently moored — for regasification and transfer to the power barge.

A similar LNG-to-power solution for Chukotka and the Baimskaya field was offered by Russia's largest gas independent Novatek. However, the authorities eventually opted for an FNPP despite the slightly higher cost of electricity for this option.

Wison has developed strong ties with Novatek in the past several years, with the Russian producer contracting the yard to deliver modules for its large LNG trains under construction in the north of Russia.

The yard claims to have the ability to build large capacity floating storage and regasification power (FSRP) barges that have received in-principle approval from UK classification society Lloyd's Register.

With total storage capacity of 170,000 cubic metres, the proposed FSRPs feature a combined-cycle gas turbine power plant with the capacity ranging between 150 and 450 megawatts.

In December last year, Papua New Guinea's national oil company Kumul Petroleum awarded a contract to Wison for the design, development and engineering of a FSRP project in the country.

The facility is scheduled to provide first gas in the fourth quarter of 2024 and forms part of PNG’s strategic plan to connect 70% of the population to secure electricity by 2030.