Sovcomflot, a pioneer in adopting LNG as the primary fuel for large-capacity oil tankers, placed an order with Russia’s Zvezda shipbuilding complex in late December for three product carriers of 51,000 dwt each that will also use LNG as their main fuel.
The three MR-class vessels, which will transport petroleum products and gas condensate, will be chartered under long-term contracts to Novatek, Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer. The ships will have a 1B ice-class rating suitable for routes in challenging sub-zero conditions including the Baltic. According to Sovcomflot, the tankers’ technical specifications will meet IMO emissions limits on sulphur, nitrogen and greenhouse gases due to apply from 2020.
The latest orders reflect Sovcomflot’s continuing LNG-driven strategy to the benefit of Zvezda. In September 2018 the group also commissioned two 114,000-dwt, LNG-fuelled Aframax crude oil tankers from the shipyard. That order followed the addition to Sovcomflot’s fleet of three other Aframax tankers during 2018. Currently, the group has a fleet of 144 vessels with a combined dwt of nearly 12.5M tonnes. Of these, Sovcomflot’s gas fleet numbers 13 ships with 12 specialised vessels.
In late 2018, the Zvezda shipyard began serial production of heavy-tonnage crude oil tankers, starting with Aframax vessels, the first built in the Russian Federation. In what politicians described as “a new era in the shipbuilding industry”, the country has launched into “heavy-range shipbuilding” at the request of the Kremlin that handed it contracts for 25 vessels from Rosneft, the state-owned oil giant.
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