MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –
For the first time in history, an Arctic LNG carrier will make the transition through the eastern sector of the Arctic in February.
“The Northern Sea Route can and should become the most important transport artery of Russia, allowing more than a third to reduce the sea route from Europe to Asia. In 2020, almost 33 million tons of cargo were transported along the Northern Sea Route, including more than 18 million tons of liquefied natural gas. Over the past five years, freight traffic has increased almost fivefold. But the potential of the Northern Sea Route is much higher. In accordance with the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, by 2024 the cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route should be increased to 80 million tons per year. It is possible to solve this problem by increasing the period of Arctic navigation ”, – noted, opening the meeting, Yuri Trutnev.
Traditionally, transit navigation in the eastern sector of the Arctic ends in November and reopens only in July. But on January 5, 2021, the Sovcomflot shipping company, in the interests of Novatek, with the participation of Rosatom State Corporation, launched the latest high-latitude voyage in the history of Arctic navigation. And now the LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie, which has new possibilities of movement in ice conditions, is at the final stage of a unique experimental circular voyage along the Sabetta (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) – Jiangsu (PRC) – Sabetta route. It moves under the guidance of the nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 Let Pobedy” in the western direction from Cape Dezhnev.
For the first time in history, a large-capacity cargo ship makes the transition along the Northern Sea Route in February. The tanker successfully crossed the waters of three seas – the Chukchi, East Siberian and the Laptev Sea. This late experimental cargo voyage became possible thanks to the many years of systematic work by PJSC Sovcomflot and PJSC Novatek to develop the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route. Since 2010, the companies, in cooperation with FSUE Atomflot, have been consistently implementing a program of experimental cargo flights in the water area of the Northern Sea Route for the development of navigation in difficult climatic and ice conditions of the Arctic sea basin and further expansion of the navigation window necessary to organize safe year-round sea transportation of liquefied natural gas from the Obskaya lips of the Kara Sea to the east.
Together with Atomflot, the companies have done a great deal of preparatory work, made a detailed assessment of all possible risks associated with difficult ice conditions, and defined safe criteria for maneuvering when moving in a caravan.
Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman of the Management Board of PJSC Novatek, noted that the company is consistently increasing the volume of hydrocarbon transportation along the Northern Sea Route, annually expanding the ice navigation period, testing the unique capabilities of the maritime transport and logistics system, gaining and accumulating experience in shipping in the Russian Arctic. “A significant contribution to the further development of year-round shipping along the Northern Sea Route will be made by the commissioning of 15 gas carriers, which are currently being built at the Russian shipyard Zvezda for our new project Arctic LNG 2. The vessels designed to ensure year-round navigation in the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route will have higher icebreaking characteristics as compared to gas carriers of the Yamal LNG project. In addition, we expect that by the end of 2022 two new nuclear-powered icebreakers of the LK-60 type will be commissioned. This will allow us and our partner Atomflot to ensure year-round LNG transportation along the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route from the Arctic LNG 2 project, the launch of the first production line of which is scheduled for early 2023, ”he said.
According to Igor Tonkovidov, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of PJSC Sovcomflot, the preliminary results of the transition prove that the navigation window in the eastern part of the Arctic can be significantly expanded – of course, provided there is effective icebreaker assistance, the use of Arctic ice-class transport vessels and compliance with the highest safety standards navigation.
“The experience gained by the company in shipping in the Arctic sea basin indicates that the operating conditions in the region require additional serious competencies and the highest discipline from the crew, and in the foreseeable future the need for specialists of this level will significantly increase. In the period from 2023 to 2025, Sovcomflot plans to commission 18 new icebreaking gas carriers for the Arctic LNG 2 project, which will create over a thousand new jobs for Russian seafarers. In 2020, Sovcomflot began implementing a large-scale training program for the required personnel from among its own officers. We also consider it expedient to intensify the training of such specialists within the framework of the departmental system of maritime vocational education, ”he said.
As reported by the captain of the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier Sergei Gen, the voyage is in normal mode, the vessel is in good condition, the crew of 33 is healthy. “We are proud that our crew was honored to complete this historic voyage. For the first time, a tanker of this size overcomes the eastern sector of the Arctic in February. The ice situation along the route is assessed as difficult, but within the expected, ”said the captain.
In addition to the nuclear-powered icebreaker, information and navigation support along the route of the gas carrier was also provided by the Marine Operations Headquarters (SHMO) of FSUE Atomflot. According to Vyacheslav Ruksha, Deputy General Director – Director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, by the beginning of the summer-autumn navigation of 2020, an automated control system (ACS) of the Marine Operations Headquarters was put into operation. It collects and analyzes information on hydrometeorological, navigation and ice conditions in the water area of the Northern Sea Route around the clock. In real time, navigators are provided with personal navigation recommendations and the most up-to-date information about all navigational hazards on the route of vessels in the water area of the Northern Sea Route. In 2020, ShMO FSUE Atomflot performed 11 ice-free pilotage of ships in the water area of the Northern Sea Route.
At present, FSUE Atomflot has completed the development of a technical assignment for the creation on the basis of the automated control system of the Headquarters of the Unified Dispatch Control Center (EDCU) for the navigation of ships on the Northern Sea Route. It will make it possible to optimize the routes of vessel traffic and the placement of nuclear icebreakers in the water area of the Northern Sea Route. The ultimate goal of product implementation will be the transition to automatic routing in the Arctic region, which will increase its logistic component, ensure maximum safety of vessel traffic and affect the commercial attractiveness of the Northern Sea Route.
“At present, there is a medium type of ice conditions in the water area of the Northern Sea Route. The maximum ice thickness on the caravan route reaches 1.5 m. There are vast hummocky areas. Despite this, the caravan confidently continues its movement in the water area of the Northern Sea Route in the direction of the port of Sabetta. The average speed since the beginning of the escort is 7 knots, ”Captain Dmitry Lobusov informed from the 50 Let Pobedy nuclear icebreaker. He thanked the Marine Operations Headquarters, the captain and crew of the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier for their high professionalism, and Novatek and Sovcomflot for their trust and high training of specialists for their assistance.
“This voyage brought us one step closer to implementing the plans of the country’s leadership to increase navigation and increase cargo traffic on the Northern Sea Route. I am confident that the Northern Sea Route is competitive, that changes in the ice situation and the improvement of marine technologies create new conditions for its development. The Northern Sea Route will enjoy more and more interest, the number of transit transport will increase, and this is important in the interests of developing the country’s economy, in the interests of our Arctic territories, “Yuri Trutnev summed up the meeting.
The event was attended by the Chairman of the Board of PJSC Novatek Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PJSC Sovcomflot Sergey Frank, General Director – Chairman of the Board of PJSC Sovcomflot Igor Tonkovidov, Deputy General Director – Director of the Directorate of the Northern Sea Route of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom “Vyacheslav Ruksha, special representative of the state atomic energy corporation” Rosatom “for the development of the Arctic Vladimir Panov.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.