Russia Ships First Yamal LNG Cargoes to China Via Northern Sea Route

File Photo: Two Arc7 ice-class LNG carriers load LNG produced at Yamal LNG at the port of Sabetta, Russia. Photo: Novatek

Russian oil and gas company PAO Novatek has shipped its first cargoes of liquified natural gas from the Yamal LNG project to China via the Northern Sea Route.

The cargoes recently arrived at the Chinese port of Jiangsu Rudong on board the icebreaking LNG carriers Vladimir Rusanov and Eduard Toll. A ceremony to mark the ships’ arrival was held Thursday.

After loading the cargoes at Russia’s port of Sabetta, home to the Yamal LNG processing and export plant, the two ships sailed without icebreaker escort through the Northern Sea Route to China in just 19 days, compared to the 35 days it would take to sail the traditional eastern route via the Suez Canal.

Novatek has shipping oil and gas through the Arctic to the Asian-Pacific since 2010.

Yamal LNG is operated a joint-venture comprising Novatek, holding 50.1% in the project, with France’s TOTAL and China’s CNPC and Silk Road Fund as minority partners.

The project will utilize a fleet of 15 Arc7 ice-class LNG carriers which will transport LNG from the port of Sabetta to Asia Pacific and European markets. The vessels are custom-designed to support year-round navigation without the need of icebreaker assistance along westbound navigation routes, and eastbound via the Northern Sea Route during the summer navigation season.

Yamal LNG opened in 2017 and is expected to ramp up to full operations in 2019, at which point it will be producing 16.5 MTPA of LNG and up to 1.2 MTPA of gas condensate. 

“This voyage begins a new era of Russian LNG shipments to meet the growing natural gas demands of the Asian-Pacific markets using the Northern Sea Route of the Arctic Ocean,” according to Leonid Mickhelson, Chairman of NOVATEK’s Management Board. “The Northern Sea Route ensures shorter transportation time and lower costs, which plays a key role in developing our hydrocarbon fields on the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas.  Our vast high-quality, conventional natural gas resource base combined with low capital intensity and operation and transportation costs positions NOVATEK’s LNG projects among the most competitive projects globally. Utilizing the Northern Sea Route as a viable transportation route contributes to the development of the Northern regions and is very important for our country’s economic development”.