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Russian Arctic Tanker Arrives in France for Propulsion Repairs

Russian ice-class tanker
One of the ARC7 LNG carriers during a Northsea Route passage (NOVATEK)

By The Maritime Executive 03-02-2021 02:50:16

One of the Russian ice-class Arctic LNG carriers that recently ran the winter test run on the Northsea Route arrived at a shipyard in France for repairs sustained to its propulsion system. French media is reporting that the ship will spend 20 days in drydock.

Initially, reports of damage to the LNG tanker Nikolay Yevgenov were denied. She along with another of the Arc7 LNG carriers conducted a double passage of the route in January seeking to transport gas from the Yamal LNG project in Sabetta to China without the assistance of ice-breakers. The Christophe de Margerie departed first and completed the run without aid, but the Nikolay Yevgenov, which had sailed a day later, was spotted stopped and proceeding at slow speeds at the eastern end of the passage before entering the Bering Sea. Russian media reports speculated that the ship had sustained damage to one of its three azipods.

“It looks like we've got some damage,” said Mark Kremin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Teekay Gas Group speaking to investors at the end of last week. “We've had it on one of the pods, which we use for propulsion. So, the ship will be in the drydock starting tomorrow, and we'll get it fixed and we'll put it back up in Sabetta.” Kremin called the situation a non-issue in financial terms and said the vessel would be repaired over the next couple of weeks.

After off-loading its gas cargo in China and a stop in North Korea, the Nikolay Yevgenov proceeded to Brest, France where she was placed in drydock at the Damen yard. In addition to the repairs, she is scheduled to undergo various inspections of the propulsion system, hull, and other machinery. 

Built in 2019, the 984-foot vessel is the second of the class to visit the shipyard for repairs to its azipods. The Georgiy Brusilov was at the yard in December 2019. No details were offered about the current damage to the azipod and if it was sustained due to the winter passage.

In January, NOVATEK had highlighted the success of the tankers in making the transit two months after the end of the traditional navigation season in the Eastern part of the Arctic. Three of the Arc7 tankers had independently passed the ice-covered part of the NSR, without ice-breaker support. The ships reportedly experienced “average ice conditions” during the trips, which the operators said further provided the viability of the route.  

NOVATEK is also reported to be planning further early spring runs along the Northsea Route. The Arc7 tanker Christophe de Margerie in May 2020 successfully transited the eastbound ice-covered part of the Northern Sea Route reached the Bering Strait in 12 days. 

The efforts to expand the navigation season are in support of the Russian goal to transport 70 million tons by 2030 along the Northsea Route.