Mitsui OSK Lines’ (MOL) president and chief executive Junichiro Ikeda announced charter agreements for three icebreaking LNG carriers with Arctic LNG 2, the LNG production-related project of Novatek, Russia’s second largest natural gas provider
The three 300-m long, 172,500-m3 capacity vessels will mainly transport LNG from an LNG loading terminal on the Gydan Peninsula in the Russian Arctic to the floating LNG storage units (FSUs) to be installed at the transhipment terminal in the Kamchatka peninsula (eastbound) and the city of Murmansk (westbound) via the Northern Sea Route.
When going ahead and astern, the vessels have a maximum icebreaking capacity of 2.1-m level ice. MOL’s icebreaking LNG carriers for the Yamal project can only sail eastbound in the Northern Sea Route in summer and autumn when the ice is thin.
In contrast, the new hull form is optimised for icebreaking and the propulsion output has been upgraded to provide greater icebreaking capabilities when both going ahead and astern enabling the vessels to sail the route year-round.
Suppliers hope to enable more efficient year-round transportation of LNG from the Russian Arctic to areas of demand, including those in Asia by combining these ice-breaking vessels with conventional LNG carriers that transport LNG from the FSUs to their final destinations.
According to MOL, the eastbound transportation route will reduce the distance of the voyage by approximately 65% compared to the westbound route via the Suez Canal for Asian destinations, which will also make significant cuts to vessel emissions.
The company said it will continue to “actively pursue the diversification of LNG transportation” to help meet customers’ energy demands and contribute to the further development of the Northern Sea Route.
MOL has been engaged in transporting LNG using three icebreaking LNG carriers on the Northern Sea Route since March 2018 for the Yamal LNG project in Russia.
The three vessels will be built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and are scheduled for delivery in 2023.
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