New Oil Tanker Begins Year-Round Service in Russian Arctic

Photo credit: PAO Sovcomflot
Photo credit: PAO Sovcomflot

The Russian shipping company Sovcomflot says its new arctic shuttle tanker Shturman Albanov has delivered its first oil cargo from the Novy Port oil field in the Gulf of Ob to the port of Murmansk, Russia.

The cargo, comprising 34,000 tonnes of crude oil, was successfully loaded at the Arctic Gate terminal, near Cape Kamenny in the Gulf of Ob, on September 12, 2016.

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Shturman Albanov is the lead ship in a series of Arctic shuttle tankers ordered by Sovcomflot Group under a long-term contract with Gazprom Neft, operator of the Novy Port field. 

The tankers will for the first time allow year-round transportation of crude oil from the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic (YNAD) to Murmansk via portions of the Northern Sea Route, including the Gulf of Ob, Kara Sea, and Barents Sea. Each has deadweight of approximately 42,000 tonnes and is designated to ice class Arc7, capable of operating in the Arctic at temperatures down to –45°C.

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The vessel’s propulsion system consists of two Azipod thrusters with a total capacity of 22 MW, providing enough power and maneuverability to sail through ice drifts and heavy ice fields. The design is also unique as it takes into account conditions specific to the Gulf of Ob, where some areas are relatively shallow – about 10 meters deep – and covered with ice from October to July.

The Arctic Gate terminal was commissioned last May as the first at sea oil terminal planned to operate year-round in the Arctic Circle.

“The successful start to the operation of SCF’s Arctic shuttle tanker Shturman Albanov is really a landmark event. In fact, Sovcomflot’s new tankers will enable the year-round transportation of oil from the estuary of Ob for the first time in history,” said Sergey Frank, Chairman and CEO of PAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group).

“From the technical point of view, Shturman Albanov meets the highest safety criteria. But the safe operation of vessels in the Arctic sea basin is a serious job, which requires not only perfect equipment, but also special skills and experienced crews to operate a vessel,” commented Vyacheslav Gafurov, the captain of tanker Shturman Albanov.