Sovcomflot LNGC completes first May NSR passage


Data from the <i>Christophe de Margerie</i>’s eastward passage will be reflected in the design of future generations of Arctic vessels. Data from the Christophe de Margerie’s eastward passage will be reflected in the design of future generations of Arctic vessels.



Russian energy shipping company, Sovcomflot, has announced that one of its Arc7 ice class LNG carriers completed an eastward passage through the Northern Sea Route to China on 31 May. The passage by the 172,600 cbm capacity Christophe de Margerie was completed two months before transits traditionally begin, the company noted.

The  2,563 nautical miles passage from the Port of Sabetta to Cape Dezhnev took the vessel 12 days to complete, moving at a speed deemed safe given the navigational conditions.

While on the NSR, Christophe de Margerie was escorted by Atomflot’s nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal. The LNGC has transited the most challenging parts of the route with Yamal’s support, including fast-ice fields in the Vilkitsky Strait, as well as hummocky ice floes in the East Siberian and the Chukchi seas.

Igor Tonkovidov, President and CEO of Sovcomflot, commented: “This successful voyage across the NSR, in May, allows us to move one step closer to realising the full transit potential of the Northern Sea Route, marking an important expansion in the shipping opportunities available to Arctic industrial projects in particular. Even in the challenging ice conditions encountered during this time of the year, choosing the NSR allows for a significant reduction in the length of a voyage delivering LNG to APAC ports compared with using the Suez Canal. A shorter voyage both allows to optimise logistics and reduce the carbon footprint of the shipping.”

The voyage has provided extensive information about the ice conditions along the eastern part of the NSR, whilst allowing the coordination between the LNG carrier and escorting icebreaker to be honed under extreme conditions. This will prove valuable for planning transportation solutions for future energy projects in the Arctic, and could help expedite the future growth of NSR cargo traffic. This information will also be reflected in the design of future generations of Arctic vessels.

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