World’s first heavy icebreaking LNG carrier, Christophe de Margerie (Photo: Total)
Japanese shipping major Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) announced charter agreements for three icebreaking liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers with Russian gas producer PAO Novatek for the Arctic LNG 2 project. The three vessels will be built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and are scheduled for delivery in 2023.
The vessels will mainly transport LNG from an LNG loading terminal on the Gydan Peninsula in the Russian Arctic to the floating LNG storage units (FSU) to be installed at the transshipment terminal in Kamchatka (eastbound) and Murmansk (westbound) via the Northern Sea route. Compared with MOL’s previous icebreaking LNG carriers, which can only sail eastbound in the Northern Sea Route during mostly summer and autumn period of time when the ice is thin, the new vessels will have a narrower width, hull form optimized for ice breaking, and an increased propulsion engine output which will enable the vessels to sail east via the Northern Sea Route all year round.
«The combination of these ice-breaking LNG vessels, which can transport LNG to the FSUs in the east and west throughout the year, and conventional LNG carriers that will transport LNG from the FSUs to their final destinations, will enable efficient year-round transportation of LNG from the Russian Arctic to areas of demand, including those in Asia. The eastbound transportation route will reduce the distance of the voyage by approximately 65% compared to the westbound route via the Suez Canal for Asian destinations, thereby making a significant contribution to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by vessels» the company said in a release.
MOL has been engaged in transporting LNG using three icebreaking LNG carriers on the Northern Sea Route since March 2018 for the Yamal LNG Project in Russia. «MOL will continue to actively pursue the diversification of LNG transportation to help meet the world’s growing energy demand, and contribute to the further development of the Northern Sea Route as a pioneering company in this field.»
Last week, Russian owner Sovcomflot (SCF) also signed a 30-year time charter agreements for three icebreaking LNG carriers with Arctic LNG 2, the operator of the Arctic LNG 2 project. The vessels have also been ordered at South Korea’s DSME, and are scheduled for delivery in 2023 and they will fly the Russian flag and have Russian crews. They have been designed using SCF’s experience of safely operating the world’s first icebreaking LNG carrier, Christophe de Margerie,(our Photo) at the Yamal LNG project. SCF currently has 15 gas carriers in operation, with a further 19 under construction.