The icebreaker LNG carriers Christophe de Margerie (IMO 9737187) and Nikolay Zubov (IMO 9768526) are sailing towards an experimental feat as they are transiting Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR) in January without icebreaker escort. The two commercial ships will cross each other’s paths in one of the iciest parts of the Arctic sea route, reports the Barents Observer.
The venture has been in the planning stage for some time, with Russian Arctic developers announcing it frequently, but on January 5th it was underway. The Christophe de Margerie set out from LNG terminal Sabetta, Russia, (Сабетта) heading for Chinese port Dalian. Just after Christmas the Nikolay Zubov left Dalian en route to Sabetta.
The Christophe de Margerie is expected to reach Dalian on January 26th, while the Nikolay Zubov is due to arrive in Sabetta on January 16th.
Never before have two LNG сarriers made such parallel voyages along the NSR at this time of the year but it’s not the first time that one of Novatek’s icebreaking LNG carriers has transited the NSR in January, but the simultaneous, unescorted voyages suggest that the viable navigation season on the NSR is growing much longer. In 2020, the first eastbound unescorted voyage from Novatek’s Yamal LNG terminal departed in mid-May, and Novatek / Sovcomflot intend to operate their specialized vessels on the route as late as February this year. Photo: Novatek
* The Northeast Passage opened 88 days in 2020 setting new Arctic record