Arctic News

Very impressive! Amazing technology!

Some interesting news about shipping North Slope LNG to Asia onboard icebreaking LNG carriers:

10-12m thick ice, eh?


They appear to just spitting them out from Russian yard these days:

Viktor Chernomyrdin is four years behind schedule. If my memory serves me right, the first new nuclear-powered icebreaker will also be commissioned next year.

OK so they a “spitting them out” a bit behind schedule, but there appears to be quite a number coming out lately.

Yeah. However, even more aggressive icebreaker building program would be needed to replace all Soviet-era icebreakers on one-to-one basis, let alone accommodate increasing traffic. With no major non-nuclear icebreakers were commissioned between early 1980s and 2008, the majority of the fleet will go beyond its best before date around the same time in the coming decade.

The nuclear powered ice breaking container ship Sevmorput is heading north on yet another trip to deliver construction material to project in the Russian Arctic:

She is the only ship of her type and the only one that can offer year around service to many arctic ports.

I might disagree with the latter remark, but with the national pride of operating the world’s only nuclear-powered cargo ship resting on Sevmorput, she’s probably “cheaper” to charter than either of the remaining SA-15s that are currently laid up in Murmansk following the collapse of Murmansk Shipping Company…

Yes I know the SA-15 ships. I spent over a week on one in, of all places, Tg.Redeb, East Kalimantan. (Not far from Equator)
She brought equipment for a (Finnish designed) pulp mill, under construction from Houston. She could not come up river, so we barged the cargo from the sea buoy to an improvised “barge landing” near the mill site. (I was Cargo Superintendent for the Forwarder)
I remember especially the heavy outside doors, the stern notch to pull a second ship into and that they had a bubble arrangement to avoid ice freezing along the hull. (Not required at that time and place)

It’s funny how some of the SA-15s ended up spending most of their careers outside of the Arctic - I doubt they were very competitive in the “open water market”. However, in ice-covered waters they were superior to anything but real icebreakers.



The Northern Sea Transport Corridor vs the Northern Sea Route:

The entire Cruise season in Svalbard could be ruined this year:

The nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal and Arc7 LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie are trying to ship LNG to China along the Northern Sea Route earlier than ever before:

There’s a small error in the article: there’s only one tanker and one icebreaker, not two plus two. The ships are currently breaking through the landfast ice in the Vilkitsky Strait and approaching the ice edge and a stretch of open water in the Laptev Sea.

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Now they are just north of the New Siberian Islands (Bunge Land, Novaya Sibir… 140° E).

It seems in difficult ice; searching a tortuous passage at 3 to 5 knots.

AIS is showing 14.6 knots for Yamal and 12.5 knots for Christophe de Margerie. There should be an ice-free area on the northern side of the islands which would explain the fairly high average speed.

However, what I’m now wondering is where 50 Let Pobedy is headed…

Just now, you are right.
An hour ago, they were at 5 (Margerie) and 3 (Yamal) knots, with widely different headings.

Yeah, the ice conditions seem to vary quite a lot along the route. I guess we’ll see again a lot of slow-downs once the convoy gets to the ice-covered East Siberian Sea.

The LNG-tanker ‘Christophe de Margerie’ left Sabetta on May 18; together with the icebreaker ‘Yamal’, for the 2400 miles voyage to the Bering Strait.
It seems, they went straight, just some smaller detours.
However, there is probably chaotic ice in the northern Chukchi Sea; they spent 24 hours maneuvering northeast of Wrangel Island.
Last night the two ships separated, the tanker proceeds to the Bering Strait, the icebreaker is in some waiting position.
Now, ‘Margerie’ is about 150 NM north of the Bering Strait, there must be some bad ice too (bad relative to her abilities).

On May 25, the LNG-tanker ‘Vladimir Voronin’ left Sabetta with the icebreaker ’50 Let Probedy’ to Cape Cheluskin (the northernmost point of Eurasia). From there, the icebreaker returned to Sabetta.
The ‘Voronin’ continued alone, using the path of the two preceding vessels, through Laptev and East Siberian Seas.
Now, ‘Voronin’ seems to be stuck in the western East Siberian Sea, at 158.5° E.
The now free ‘Yamal’ could help her…

I ignore, whether they are happy with this early start into the season, or not.

PS May 31, 04 UTC:
Just now, the ‘Margerie’ passed the Diomede Islands in the Bering Strait; on her way to Yangkou, China, 4000 miles away.

The icebreaker ‘Yamal’ proceeds westwards at up to 18 knots, near the Siberian coast: possibly to assist the lonely LNG-tanker ‘Voronin’…