Icebreakers transfer LNG from Norway to Japan
LNG Carrier ‘Ob River’ chartered by the Gazprom Marketing & Trading (GM&T) group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of OAO Gazprom, and operated by Dynagas (Greece), has successfully completed the world’s first LNG delivery through the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
The LNG carrier ‘Ob River’ loaded a cargo of LNG from the Snohvit terminal in Hammerfest, Norway on 7th November and today discharged it at the Tobata terminal in Japan.
Throughout her passage on the NSR between 9th and 18th November, the vessel was escorted by Russian nuclear icebreakers operated by “Rosatomflot” and assisted by ice-pilots provided by the Northern Sea Route Administration. The waters of the Barents and Kara Sea were mostly ice-free, while on the passage between Vilkitskogo and Bering Strait young ice of up to 30 cm was encountered.
The voyage was completed safely, on schedule and with excellent support from the ice pilots, masters and crews of the ice breakers and the shore personnel of “Rosatomflot” and the Northern Sea Route Administration of the Ministry of Transport of Russian Federation.
This laden voyage from Europe to Asia was preceded by the ballasting voyage from Asia to Europe by the ‘Ob River’ in October. The round trip of the vessel from Asia to Europe and back has confirmed the technical and commercial viability of NSR for the global LNG business. Dedicated support from “Rosatomflot” and the Northern Sea Route Administration, shorter cargo delivery times, fuel economy, the ability to meet tighter schedules on cross-basin trades, reduction in boil-off with more cargo delivered, lower greenhouse gas generation and reduced piracy risks in combination present a very attractive and sustainable solution for the cross-basin LNG trade today and in the future.
Commenting on this historic voyage, Frédéric Barnaud, Executive Director at Gazprom Marketing & Trading said: “Never before has LNG been transported via this route. This huge achievement is the result of the LNG and Shipping & Logistics teams at GM&T working together with our partners to make this happen. The importance of opening up the NSR as a viable alternative to our customers fully complements our commitment to the fast growing Asian LNG market which is a key area of growth for the Gazprom Group.”
The ’Ob River’ was built in 2007 with 1A ice class notation (Lloyd’s Register) and extensive winterisation equipment. The vessel and her crew successfully performed in ice conditions in 2009-2011 when chartered by the GM&T group for winter operations to export LNG from “Sakhalin-2”, the first Russian LNG project where OAO Gazprom is the majority shareholder. The vessel has an international crew on board, including Russian officers – the graduates of the Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia’s leading maritime education and training centre.
The Northern Sea Route, or North-East passage, is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean along the North coast of Siberia, most of the route being in Arctic waters. Navigation fairways are opened by icebreakers in order to extend the navigation period. This strategic route cuts the maritime distance from Northern Europe to Northeast Asia by up to 40% compared to southern sea routes via the Suez or Panama canals. This world premier by Gazprom is a first, significant step in demonstrating the safe and commercial usage of this new maritime route.