Photo: SCF Group
1. Arctic LNG carrier completes pilot voyage along NSR
On February 16, during a working meeting with the Government of the Russia, “Sovcomflot” CEO Igor Tonkovidov reported on the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier that has been finishing experimental round voyage Sabetta – Jiangsu (China) – Sabetta using the high-latitude route of the NSR. Details were reported by the press service of the shipping company.
The meeting was also attended by Chairman of the Board of “Sovcomflot” Sergey Frank, Chairman of the Board of NOVATEK Leonid Mikhelson, Deputy General Director of State Corporation “Rosatom” Vyacheslav Ruksha.
The gas carrier Christophe de Margerie is currently completing an experimental round trip. For the first time in history, a large-tonnage cargo ship makes a passage in the eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route in February. Traditionally, transit navigation in the eastern sector of the Arctic ends in November and reopens only in July.
“Christophe de Margerie” started the voyage on January 5, 2021 in the port of Sabetta. The gas carrier safely completed the crossing to the east along the Northern Sea Route in 11 days. Along the entire NSR, the vessel moved independently, without icebreaker assistance.
On January 27, after unloading a batch of LNG in the port of Jiangsu (China), the LNG carrier went in the opposite direction and on February 7 was taken for support by the icebreaker “50 let Pobedy” at Cape Dezhnev, the eastern end of the NSR. The arrival of the convoy of ships to the port of Sabetta is scheduled for 19 February.
“The voyage of the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier is running normally, the vessel is in good condition, the crew is healthy. The ice conditions on the track are assessed as difficult, but within the expected. The greatest difficulty for the vessel was represented by ice compression and hummocky areas in the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas, to overcome them the vessel moved stern ahead (about 10% of the time on the NSR). Along the entire NSR, we maintain a speed that is safe, taking into account ice conditions and weather conditions. I would like to thank the captain of “50 let Pobedy” icebreaker Dmitry Lobusov and his crew for the high-quality pilotage,” said Sergey Gen, Captain of the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier.
2. Gas carriers sail in April-May
The next voyage along the eastern part of the Northern Sea Route will take place in spring.
NOVATEK will continue to conduct trial voyages eastward along the Northern Sea Route: the company plans to do the next very early trip in April-May. On February 19, the Christophe de Margerie gas carrier is to return to Sabetta, which for the first time in history sailed on the Sabetta-Jiangsu-Sabetta route two months later than the usual closure of navigation. On the way back, the ship was escorted by the nuclear icebreaker “50 let Pobedy”. NOVATEK expects the commission of two more LK-60 nuclear icebreakers by the end of 2022, which should help create conditions for year-round gas shipment to the east.
The cargo traffic of the Northern Sea Route should reach 80 million tons by 2024, and it is possible to solve this problem by increasing the period of Arctic navigation, said Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Trutnev.
Traditionally, navigation closes in November and opens in July, says Igor Tonkovidov, head of Sovkofmlot. Last year, NOVATEK first began sending tankers to the east, supported by icebreakers, in the second half of May.
Vyacheslav Ruksha, Deputy Director General of Rosatom, Director of NSR Directorate of Rosatom, said that NOVATEK, Sovcomflot and the state corporation are constantly working to extend the navigation period. “Until 2020, taking into account the state of the entire infrastructure and ships, we were guided by 14, sometimes even 16 days passage,” Ruksha clarified. “Now we consider 11 days of a passage a real result and taking into account all government decisions on the development of infrastructure, by 2030, 130 million tons and speed modes, confident and regular, in the region of 10 knots.”
3. Severnaya Zvezda decided to order 28 vessels for coal supply along NSR
Severnaya Zvezda, the company of Roman Trotsenko, plans to announce a tender for the supply of 28 ice-class vessels to transport coal from its project in the Arctic. The total cost of these vessels will amount to $ 1.4 billion, some of the orders will have to be placed abroad. Trotsenko told RBC about this.
According to the decree of President Vladimir Putin, the cargo traffic along the NSR by 2024 should increase to 80 million tons. By the end of 2020, 33 million tons of mainly oil, LNG and metals (of Norilsk Nickel) were delivered along the route. Coal on this route is not yet supplied, but its transportation is included in the plan of Severnaya Zvezda to increase cargo traffic along the NSR.
Shippers have fears that icebreaker fleet and Arctic-class vessels will be not enough with such a significant increase in the load of the NSR. “A number of potential large carriers along the Northern Sea Route (including Vostokugol and Severnaya Zvezda with a planned volume of cargo traffic of 28 million tons by 2024) do not have an icebreaker fleet and Arctic-class vessels to transport goods in the water area of the Northern Sea Route.” – reported the Accounts Chamber in January, in the report on the interim results of monitoring the comprehensive plan for the development of infrastructure.
According to the presentation of Rosatom, prepared for the meeting of the State Commission for the Arctic Development, the deficit of the fleet on the Northern Sea Route may be 19 vessels in 2024, and by 2030 it will grow to 48 vessels.
How Severnaya Zvezda plans to create an Arctic fleet
Severnaya Zvezda owns the Syradasayskoye coal deposit located in the Krasnoyarsk Region, on the Taimyr Peninsula, 120 km southeast of Dikson. Its reserves are estimated at 5.7 billion tons. The company plans to start coal mining this year (300 thousand tons) and by 2030 bring it to 10 million tons. The volume of financing for this project will exceed 45 billion rubles until 2025, said the Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region Alexander Uss at a meeting with Trotsenko in November 2020.
“Severnaya Zvezda is interested in chartering vessels with a deadweight of 105–110 thousand tons of ice class Arc 5 under a contract for transportation (take or pay) or their lease (time-charter),” Trotsenko said. The company, according to him, will not order them itself, but expects to find a partner – a professional carrier to fulfill this task. This role could belong to Sovcomflot. At the same time, the businessman clarified that this company does not currently have a fleet for the transportation of such a tonnage, although it can build it within this timeframe if an agreement on a future transportation contract is agreed.
4. Arkhangelsk fishing port is ready to meet ships with Far Eastern fish
Arkhangelsk fishing port is ready to receive vessels with Far Eastern fish following along the Northern Sea Route. According to the press service of the government of the Arkhangelsk region, representatives of the regional Ministry of agro industrial complex and trade spoke about this at a meeting with the Federal Agency for Fishery on the implementation of the work flow chart for the development of the Northern Sea Route.
«The regional Ministry of agro industrial complex and trade takes an active role in the implementation of the work flow chart for the development of the Northern Sea Route. This includes such goals as increase of voyages number, cost reduction for fish transportation along the NSR as well as motor and railway transportations from Arkhangelsk and Murmansk to Moscow and Sait-Petersburg”, told the head of the Ministry of agro industrial complex and trade of the Arkhangelsk region Irina Bazhanova.
According to her words, the issue of loading ships in the opposite direction is currently being worked out.
The capacity of the port of Arkhangelsk allows connecting more than 300 refrigerated containers to the power supply at the same time.
Recall that in accordance with the decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, in order to increase the food security of the country, work is underway to create a permanent shipping line for transporting fish products from the Far East along the Northern Sea Route.
The fish from the Far East have already been delivered to Arkhangelsk via the Northern Sea Route – in 2017–2019, vessels of “Dobroflot” company delivered humpback salmon, chum salmon, red salmon and char.
Earlier it was reported that a large number of shippers of the Arkhangelsk region and regions of the North-West of Russia are ready to redirect cargo flows to the Northern Sea Route with departure from the port of Arkhangelsk if attractive commercial conditions are created.
5. Cargo volume on NSR in January increased by 8.3%
The volume of cargo transported along the Northern Sea Route in January 2021 amounted to 2.59 million tons, which is 8.3% more than in the same period last year. This was reported by the press service of Rosmorrechflot with reference to the data of the Administration of the Northern Sea Route.
Icebreaker operations in the NSR water area were provided by icebreakers “Admiral Makarov”, “Krasin”, nuclear icebreakers “Yamal”, “Vaygach”, “Taimyr” and “50 let Pobedy”, which entered the NSR on January 23.
Icebreaker support in the port of Sabetta was provided by icebreakers “Ob”, “Tor”, “Saint-Petersburg”, in the port of Dudinka – icebreakers “Dudinka” and “Avraamiy Zavenyagin”.
The safety of shipping operations at the arctic terminal of Novoportovkoe field “Arctic Gate” was ensured by icebreakers “Alexander Sannikov” and “Andrey Vilkitskiy”.
The water area of the NSR is covered with close first-year ice along the recommended paths in the Ob Bay, and hummocks up to 3-4 points, fields of ice breccia on the approaches to the bay, the captains of vessels report about periodic ice compressions. At Cape Zhelaniya and on the approaches to the Boris Vilkitskiy Strait, an iceberg threat remains.