Novatek LNG Tankers Make January Voyages East
Despite the present freezing temperatures in European Russia, Novatek has been delivering LNG cargoes to Asia in the depths of winter and without ice-breaker support using the northern sea route (NSR), it reported January 18.
The Arc7 ice-class Arctic LNG tanker Christophe de Margerie completed an independent passage eastwards January 16, having reached the Bering Strait in 11 days with an average safe speed of 9.6 knots, or a little under half the maximum.
The tanker, named after the previous CEO of Novatek's LNG partner Total, was subsequently followed by the similarly-sized Nikolay Yevgenov, which is completing its own passage along the NSR. Despite the slow speed, the total time of cargo delivery by this route is 40% shorter than the traditional route through the Suez Canal, said Novatek.
Simultaneously, another Arc7 ice-class LNG tanker Nikolay Zubov was making the return trip from Asia after offloading its LNG cargo and entered the westbound ice route along the NSR January 6. All three voyages took place in average ice conditions, two months after the end of the traditional navigation season in the eastern part of the Arctic, which usually ends in November.
Novatek said it had been working with its partners to expand the navigational season for LNG shipments. Not using ice-breakers is a further cost and environmental benefit.
"Expanding the navigational period along the NSR by almost half the distance and time of LNG transport to the ports of the Asia-Pacific region compared with the traditional route through the Suez Canal allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and decrease carbon emissions by 7,000 metric tons per round trip," said CEO Leonid Mikhelson.
"The government of the Russian Federation is taking all the necessary measures to create a safe and competitive transport infrastructure in the Russian Arctic, ensuring year-round navigation along the NSR, including in the eastern part of the NSR. For example, our new fleet of ice-class LNG carriers, which will be built at the Zvezda Shipyard in Russia, are designed with better ice-breaking characteristics."
Arc7 winterised tankers have stronger hulls and can turn around and sail in reverse, using their sterns to break up ice up to a certain thickness.