The Murmansk Shipping Company, operator of the nuclear icebreakers, declared this on December 3. The spokesman for the company explained that in 1992, when operation of Sibir was suspended, " the methods to replace the inner part of steam generators did not exist." But now it is possible and the service lifetime can be prolonged until 175,000 hours, he said. "The Murmansk Shipping Company has developed such methods and tested them on the Vaigach nuclear ice-breaker," the interviewee continued. In expert estimate, the Sibir overhaul will not cost more than 20 percent of the sum required for construction of a new nuclear icebreaker. Sibir reactor commissioned in 1978, operated about 100,000 hours.
Today Russia has six nuclear icebreakers and one nuclear lighter-carrier in service. The newest icebreaker Yamal, was commissioned in 1992. The world’s first icebreaker Lenin was taken out of service in 1989. Arktica is undergoing overhaul in a bid to prolong the service life of its steam-generators to 175,000 hours (initially it was 100,000 hours). Theoretically, it can be extended to 200,000 hours, increasing the vessel’s life from 25 to 30-35 years. Last February, Vaigach was put to repairs and its steam-generator was replaced. The Murmansk Shipping Company believes the experience gained can be used to put Sibir back on stream. But according to the specialists all these efforts can retain the icebreakers in operation in the Arctic region only until 2012 2015, RIA-Novosti reported.