On 16 January 2021, at 20:20 Moscow time (17:20 GMT), Sovcomflot’s LNG carrier “Christophe de Margerie” reached Cape Dezhnev in Russia’s Far East, completing her eastbound voyage carrying a cargo of LNG along the Northern Sea Route, for Yamal LNG, from the port of Sabetta in the Russian Arctic to the Asia Pacific market, Sovcomflot reported. This is the first time Russian LNG has been transported across this route in January.
“The successful NSR passage proves that during the autumn-winter navigation season, commercial cargo shipping across the Eastern part of the Russian Arctic becomes possible for an additional 1-2 months. This voyage is yet another step towards the year-round, safe navigation along the full length of the NSR. This will also help realize Russia’s plans to grow NSR cargo traffic and further unlock the route’s transit potential,/’ Sovcomflot said in a statement.
The LNG carrier’s voyage, from exiting the Gulf of Ob’s seaway channel to Cape Dezhnev, lasted 10 days and 21 hours, during which time the vessel covered 2,474 nautical miles. “Christophe de Margerie” navigated the entire length of the Northern Sea Route independently without icebreaker assistance. She maintained a safe speed under the prevailing ice conditions and limited visibility. With her double action hull design, the vessel sailed stern-first for about 66% of the steaming time, to overcome the ice hummocks. The average voyage speed was 9.5 knots.
Igor Tonkovidov, President and CEO of Sovcomflot, said: “Christophe de Margerie’s voyage, in January, continues the longstanding efforts of SCF and NOVATEK to develop large-capacity cargo shipping in the Arctic, and to further expand the window of transportation opportunities in the challenging ice and navigational conditions of the Arctic Sea Basin. Year-round navigation in the Eastern part of the Russian Arctic has been a centuries-old dream of Russia’s pioneering seafarers, and now we are one step closer to it. This will result in more efficient use of the Northern Sea Route for the Russian economy, whilst contributing to the success of large-scale industrial projects at the Ob River estuary and across the entire Russian Arctic. Faster voyages along the Northern Sea Route, when compared with the conventional southern route through the Suez Canal, are not just more cost-effective but they also significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the cargo transportation.”
A day later, another Arc7 ice class LNG carrier followed the same route. She used the data collected by “Christophe de Margerie” and the channel made by her in the ice fields. This allowed two sister vessels to work out interaction tactics.
According to Novatek, “Christophe de Margerie” was followed by “Nikolay Yevgenov”, which is currently completing her independent passage along the Northern Sea Route. Both LNG tankers will deliver approximately 140 thousand tons of LNG produced at Yamal LNG to destinations in the Asia-Pacific Region. The total time of cargo delivery by this route is 40% shorter than the traditional route through the Suez Canal, Novatek stressed.
Simultaneously, another Arc7 ice-class LNG tanker “Nikolay Zubov”, traveling in the opposite direction to the port of Sabetta after offloading LNG cargo, entered the westbound ice route along the Northern Sea Route on January 6 and reached the Ob Bay on January 17.
All three of the Arc7 ice-class LNG tankers independently passed the ice-covered part of the Northern Sea Route, without ice-breaker support, along the navigational routes recommended by the State Research Center Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and Atomflot’s Marine Operations Headquarters.
These 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.