Unique Arctic Journey for Russian LNG Carrier

Sovcomflot’s Arc7 ice-class Christophe de Margerie LNG carrier has made history by successfully transiting the Eastbound ice-covered part of the Northern Sea Route (“NSR”) in May, carrying LNG from Novatek’s Yamal LNG project to China.

The Russian vessel owner said the event marked the first time in the history of the shipping industry that a large-capacity vessel of this class has passed along the Northern Sea Route eastwards in May when the ice conditions in the eastern sector of the NSR are rather difficult. Traditionally, navigation in the area is opened only in July.

Novatek said that the 2,563 nautical miles long journey across Northern Sea Route (“NSR”) to the Bering Strait took 12 days.

“The voyage took place before the traditional start of the summer navigation season in average ice conditions, with the maximum ice thickness on the route reaching 1.3 meters. Eastbound transportation of LNG along the NSR is not normally performed in May as this represents one of the most difficult months for navigation,” Novatek said.

The “Christophe de Margerie” left the port of Sabetta on 18 May 2020, passed the Ob Bay and a part of the Kara Sea without ice-breaker assistance and then met with Atomflot’s nuclear icebreaker “Yamal” , which escorted the tanker with ice navigation on the Еastern part of the NSR. The tanker will deliver an LNG cargo produced at Yamal LNG to China.

Igor Tonkovidov, General Director – Chairman of the Management Board of Sovcomflot said: “The May cruise of the Christophe de Margerie tanker via the NSR allows us to take another step towards unlocking the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route and significantly expand the window of transport opportunities, which increases the efficiency of Arctic industrial projects.”

“This unique tanker voyage is the result of NOVATEK’s detailed logistics solutions, exceptional ice performance of our Arctic LNG tanker fleet and the coordinated work of the entire team. We are grateful to the crews of the “Christophe de Margerie” LNG tanker and the “Yamal” nuclear icebreaker, who both demonstrated high professionalism in harsh Arctic conditions, representing the best traditions of the Russian school of navigation,” noted Leonid Mikhelson, NOVATEK’s Chairman of the Management Board.

“We are actively working to expand the eastbound navigation season for the NSR and looking forward to further development of State support for this trade route by increasing icebreaking capabilities as well as full-scale navigation and hydrographic assistance for shipping. This support allows us to significantly contribute to the annual cargo turnover along the Northern Sea Route by implementing our large-scale LNG projects to produce up to 70 million tons by 2030.”

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