The world's first icebreaking LNG carrier, the Christophe de Margerie, has arrived at the Yamal export terminal on the Kara Sea, the loading facility she was built to serve.
“Today’s events are the result of a painstaking and thorough collaboration between Sovcomflot, Novatek, and Yamal LNG which took close to ten years," said Sovcomflot president and CEO Sergey Frank. "In many ways, these results have laid the foundation for the successful implementation of the Yamal LNG project, which would have been impossible without an efficient and safe logistics scheme to transport LNG by sea."
Sovcomflot said that the Margerie performed well in her first ice trials in the Kara and Laptev Seas. The vessel was able to move stern-first in five feet of ice at a speed of 7.2 knots (better than the target speed of 5 knots) and head-on at a speed of 2.5 knots (better than the target of 2 knots). Her ice-breaking turning circle was about half the expected diameter of 3,300 yards.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the vessel's arrival ceremony by teleconference, and he congratulated Yamal LNG's developers and Sovcomflot on their achievements. "If we continue working in this way, and at this pace – and I must admit that I am somewhat amazed at the accomplishments . . . in that case there is no question that Russia can and will become one of the world’s biggest producers of liquefied natural gas," he said.
The new "Yamalmax" class LNG carriers are designed with three ABB azipods for maneuverability, and they can travel astern in ice up to seven feet thick (they are double-acting icebreakers, with greater icebreaking capacity astern and better open-water performance moving ahead). The Margerie is the first in a planned series of 15, all built by DSME and operated by Sovcomflot. The total cost of the vessels is projected at $5 billion, and several commercial shipowners have invested in the fleet, including Teekay Tankers, Dynagas and CLNG.
Novatek's Yamal LNG project is expected to begin operations later this year, and will eventually ramp up to a design capacity of 16.5 mtpa – roughly the same size as Chevron's Gorgon LNG project in Australia. Novatek is already recruiting investors for a second terminal, Arctic LNG-2, which would be built across the Gulf of Ob from Yamal LNG.