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Winter season tests the mettle of Yamal and Baltic LNG carriers

LNG carrier operations in the Russian High Arctic and the Baltic Sea have extended the operational envelope of ice class gas shipping

Over the past 15 months Novatek has rewritten the record book covering ice class LNG carrier operations. The company is bringing LNG from the Russian High Arctic by means of a fleet of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers (LNGC) built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Korea.

Constructed to the Arc7 standard set down in the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS) ice class rules of 2007, the ships are being utilised by Novatek to transport LNG from the Yamal LNG export terminal at Sabetta on Ob Bay to customers worldwide. The Arc7 rating is the highest ice class yet awarded to a merchant ship. When operating in the stern-first, icebreaking mode, the ‘double-acting’ Yamal LNGCs are able to proceed through ice up to 1.8 m thick on a continuous basis.

Long Yamal winter

Sabetta lies approximately 525 km north of the Arctic Circle and endures a 65-day polar night, from late November to late January, when the sun does not appear above the horizon. First-year ice begins to form and thicken in the vicinity of the Yamal terminal around mid-October and remains in place through the following June. Sabetta’s fleet of dedicated port icebreakers are kept busy for over seven months of the year, keeping the channel to the terminal’s two LNG jetties clear.

In December 2018 Train No 3 at Yamal exported its first cargo, 12 months earlier than scheduled. Train 3 has commenced producing LNG well ahead of the delivery of the final tranche of five ships planned for this, the third of project’s three original 5.5 million tonnes per annum (mta) liquefaction units.

“Sabetta’s fleet of dedicated port icebreakers are kept busy for over seven months of the year, keeping the channel to the terminal’s two LNG jetties clear”

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