Christophe de Margerie, the icebreaking LNG carrier owned and operated by Russian Sovcomflot (SCF Group), has crossed the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in a new record time for a merchant ship without icebreaker support, during the month of July, the company announced.
The vessel covered the distance of 2,360 nautical miles eastward, from the port of Sabetta (Yamal Peninsula) to Cape Dezhnev (the Bering Strait), in seven days and 17 hours, without any icebreaker support, in an average speed of 12.8 knots.
The LNG carrier set this new record while delivering LNG cargo from the Yamal LNG plant at Sabetta to the port of Tangshan, China. On 31 July, the vessel successfully berthed at her destination port. In total, it took her 18.5 days to travel from Sabetta to China.
Igor Tonkovidov, Executive Vice President and COO/CTO of SCF Group, stated:
Ice conditions along the route were severe, especially in the East Siberian Sea, and the vessel experienced navigation in extended periods of limited visibility…The crew of Christophe de Margerie was able to maintain a rapid yet safe speed for the tanker through effective organisation of bridge watch-keeping, highly skilled navigation, slowing the ship when approaching challenging ice fields and passing them at a safe speed, and moving reasonably quicker in areas of reduced ice cover.
‘Christophe de Margerie’ is the first in a series of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers ordered for the Yamal LNG, to transport LNG year-round in the challenging ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob. When completed, she became the world’s first icebreaking LNG carrier. Her cargo capacity is 172,600 cubic metres. The ship completed her first loading of LNG at the Port of Sabetta, on 8 December 2017.
The vessel can sail independently through ice of up to 2.1 metres thick. She can sail unassisted along the NSR westward from Yamal all year-round, and eastward for six months of the year (from July to December).
Previously, the summer navigation window in the eastern area of the Northern Sea Route was limited to only four months with icebreaker support. As such, this passage along the Northern Sea Route eastward from Yamal was a landmark, confirming the economic efficiency of this route and representing the beginning of regular shipments of LNG along the NSR from Russia’s Arctic gas fields to the countries of Asia Pacific, according to SCF.