Tanker rubbed with ice – Kommersant newspaper No. 7 (6969) dated 19.01.2021

NOVATEK’s Yamal LNG project may temporarily lose one of its ice tankers, Nikolai Evgenov, which is now completing its passage along the Northern Sea Route without an icebreaker escort. According to Kommersant’s information, one of the three azipods – propulsion systems – went out of order on the ship, but the tanker continues to move independently. So far, according to Kommersant’s interlocutors, it is impossible to assess the severity of the breakdown: both repair and replacement of the azipod may be required, in the latter case the ship will need to be docked for about a month. Experts point out that the temporary retirement of one tanker should not have a critical impact on Yamal LNG shipments.

According to Kommersant’s information, the LNG tanker Nikolay Evgenov (owned by Yamal Arc7 LNG, where 50% belongs to Teekay, 50% belongs to China LNG Shipment), which is carrying out an early flight with NOVATEK’s cargo to Asia through the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route, faced problems … Starting from Saturday, January 16, the vessel’s speed noticeably decreased, which sometimes dropped to three knots. According to Kommersant’s sources, this is due to the failure of one of the three azipods (propulsion systems).

Nevertheless, according to marinetraffic data, the vessel continued to move in the ice on its own and had almost completed the passage of the NSR – as of the evening of January 18, the tanker was entering the Bering Strait. The date of arrival at the final point of the route – the Chinese port of Jingtang (Tangshan) – is January 28. Reducing speed is likely to result in delayed shipping and fines.

Expansion of the navigation period along the NSR by almost halving the distance and time of LNG transportation to Asian ports as compared to the traditional route through the Suez Canal allows to reduce carbon emissions by 7 thousand tons per round trip

A Kommersant source familiar with the situation says that the tanker is now completing its exit from the Northern Sea Route at a speed of seven knots. The vessel has problems with the central azipod, most likely in the software part. He doubts the tanker will have to be docked – most likely a service engineer will be needed to fix the problem. Another interlocutor of Kommersant claims that the issue of the need for drydocking has not yet been resolved – if, nevertheless, replacement of the azipod is required, it usually takes about a month.

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Novatek did not provide any comments.

Navigation in the eastern sector of the NSR usually lasts from July to December, but NOVATEK is trying to extend it.

So, last year, the company first began sending tankers to the east, accompanied by icebreakers, from the second half of May. Now NOVATEK has decided to send two trial cargoes along this route without an icebreaker escort: on January 5, the Christophe de Margerie tanker left Sabetta on Yamal, followed by Nikolay Evgenov on the 6th. At the same time, NOVATEK has planned several more flights to the east this winter, but this time accompanied by icebreakers. Deliveries to Asia are now very profitable, as the cold winter has pushed LNG spot prices in the region to over $ 1,000 / tcm, three times higher than in Europe.

Christophe de Margerie (owned by Sovcomflot) crossed the Northern Sea Route without incident in 11 days at an average speed of 9.6 knots. As the company reported on January 18, another gas carrier of this series (we are talking about “Nikolay Evgenov”), which used the data of Christophe de Margerie and the canal laid by him in the ice fields, performed a similar passage along the NSR, which made it possible to work out the tactics of interaction between two Arctic ice-class gas carriers during independent navigation in ice conditions. IN NOVATEK’s release, released on January 18, only notes that “Nikolay Evgenov” is completing an independent passage along the NSR.

The head of the Gekon consulting center, Mikhail Grigoriev, notes that if the azipod is replaced or repaired, it will take place in Asia. It is difficult to estimate the repair time. According to the expert, the decommissioning of one gas carrier for a month will not significantly affect the transportation of Yamal LNG. “If there are no flights to the east, and they are still in question, then the export schedule will be observed,” he believes.

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Tatiana Dyatel, Anastasia Vedeneeva

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