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Heavy lift vessel Wei Xiao Tian Shi. (Source: Jiangsu Fanzhou Shipping Company)

Heavy lift vessel Wei Xiao Tian Shi. (Source: Jiangsu Fanzhou Shipping Company)

Chinese Heavy Lift Vessel Carrying New Arctic LNG 2 Modules to Russia Despite Sanctions

Malte Humpert
Total Views: 0
May 10, 2024

By Malte Humpert (gCaptain) –

Just days after the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned four heavy lift vessels for carrying LNG technology to Russia, a thus-far unsanctioned vessel Wei Xiao Tian Shi is en route Murmansk. The 62,074 dwt vessel is carrying the first two LNG modules for the third production train of Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project.

The vessel, owned by Chinese Hainan Smiling Angel Shipping Company, departed from the Wison Offshore & Marine Zhoushan Fabrication Yard at the end of March and is expected to arrive at Novatek’s Belokamenka construction yard by the end of May. 

Satellite images show the vessel loading two modules between March 18 and March 29, 2024. Two additional modules remain at the yard awaiting pickup. 

Satellite images from March 20 and March 21, 2024 showing the loading of module 3-TMR-001 and 3-TMR-002 onto Wei Xiao Tian Shi. (Source: Planet.com)
Satellite images from March 20 and March 21, 2024 showing the loading of module 3-TMR-001 and 3-TMR-002 onto Wei Xiao Tian Shi. (Source: Planet.com)

Sources at Wison Offshore confirm Wei Xiao Tian Shi to be carrying pipe rack modules 3-TMR-001 and 3-TMR-002. 

The modules are traditionally the first units to be installed and will form the core of the third production line. Each production line consists of 14 modules assembled atop a massive floating gravity-based concrete structure. 

Wison Offshore graphic of an Arctic LNG 2 train, with modules TMR-001 and TMR-002 highlighted. (Source: Wison)
Wison Offshore graphic of an Arctic LNG 2 train, with modules TMR-001 and TMR-002 highlighted. (Source: Wison)

In February Arctic LNG 2 stakeholder TotalEnergies stated construction of the third train had been put on hold. However, the shipment of initial modules for the third train suggests that Novatek may intend to complete the final production line.

“The rumor mill will really be churning now, given that train 3 modules are on their way to Belokamenka,” explains Ben Seligman, a project specialist for Arctic oil and gas development.

“Earlier statements suggested train 3 of the Arctic LNG 2 project had been abandoned and the whole train could eventually be repurposed for Murmansk LNG,” confirms Seligman.

Novatek has yet to make a final investment decision for Murmansk LNG and the project is slated to open no earlier than 2027.

In an effort to slow down Russia’s construction of new LNG plants the U.S. has systematically levied sanctions against Novatek, its Arctic LNG 2 projects, the assembly yard and numerous heavy lift vessels

Newly sanctioned companies include Singaporean Red Box Energy Services whose vessels Audax and Pugnax carried modules across the frozen Northern Sea Route this winter. 

While the measures have had some success in slowing down construction, they have thus far been unable to stop the transport of prefabricated LNG modules from five shipyards across China. 

This isn’t the first time Wei Xiao Tian Shi has transported LNG modules for Arctic LNG 2. In September 2023, the vessel carried modules 2-TMR-003 and 2-TMR-004. 

At the time the ship was called Fan Zhou 10. According to ship registry platform Equasis, the vessel recently underwent an ownership change from Jiangsu Fanzhou Shipping Company to Smiling Angel Shipping. 

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