DSME Launches World's First Icebreaking LNG Carrier

Yamal LNG tanker concept (courtesy Novatek)

Published Jan 18, 2016 7:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) has announced the launch of the first Arc 7 ice-classed LNG carriers for the Yamal LNG project. It is the world's first icebreaking LNG carrier, classed for breaking through over 2 meters of ice, and can carry 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied gas. The carrier was launched Friday at DSME's Okpo shipyard in Geoje, South Gyeongsang, the firm said.

“World’s energy sources are in decline and many are eyeing the natural resources buried in the Arctic Circle, which is why our icebreaking LNG carrier may come in useful,” a company spokesman said.

?The LNG carriers are designed with three azimuthing stern thrusters by ABB for maneuverability and to permit movement astern in ice up to 2.1 meters (they are double-acting icebreakers, with greater icebreaking capacity astern).

Sovcomflot signed a deal for the first prototype vessel in 2014, for delivery in October 2016. Fourteen more of the tankers are expected, at a cost in the range of $5 billion. Chinese shipping major Sinotrans has signed with Dynagas and CLNG for the joint purchase of five Arctic-class LNG carriers from DSME in December in a series of joint ventures coupled with a 25-year time charter for each ship, at $20 million per month per vessel.

Teekay Tankers signed an earlier deal with China LNG Shipping for six of the ships.

While multiple companies (or consortiums) are taking stakes in the purchasing, DSME will be the shipbuilder for all 15 of the vessels through a contract tender with Sovcomflot.

The Novatek-operated Yamal LNG project, on the Yamal Peninsula in the Kara Sea, is expected to produce 16.5 million tons per annum beginning 2017. It has the public backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has secured much of its required financing. China's state-owned Silk Road Fund purchased a 10 percent equity stake in the project in December in return for a 15-year loan of $800 million. 

DSME faces significant financial pressure, like other Asian yards. It announced in December that it will be issuing $350 million in new shares to offset what is expected to be its biggest annual operating loss ever due to delays on offshore projects.