SABETTA PORT, Russia. The Yamal LNG gas project has appointed GAC Russia to manage its fleet of icebreaker tankers at Sabetta port for the next three years. The company will handle an estimated 200 port calls every year.
The contract follows last year’s sea trials of the world’s first ice-breaking LNG tanker, named after former Total head Christophe de Margerie. The vessel is the first of 15 similar vessels to serve Russia’s Yamal project that will export liquefied natural gas from the country’s South-Tambeyskoye gas field to European and Asian markets year round via the Northern Sea Route.
Yamal LNG is owned and operated by a partnership of Novatek (50.1 percent), Total and CNPC (20 percent each) and the Silk Road Fund (9.9 percent) to tap natural gas reserves equivalent to over four billion barrels of oil. Assuming no trade sanctions, each year nearly 16.5 million tonnes of LNG is expected to leave Sabetta to customers in Europe and Asia.
Christophe de Margerie is an Arc7 ice class vessel capable of sailing independently through ice up to 2.1 meters thick. The ship can operate along the Northern Sea Route westward from Sabetta year-round and eastward from July to December.
GAC Russia’s general manager Tatyana Shorokhova commented: “We are privileged to be working so extensively with Yamal LNG on this historic project. Coupled with our ongoing expansion into the Russian Far East, this makes GAC Russia the only ship agent with a presence throughout the interconnected Arctic region and the Far East. With offices in Nakhodka and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, we cover 22 maritime ports in the region.”
The company has been in Sabetta since the start of the Yamal LNG project when there was no access by land or sea. In 2011 construction began on a regional transportation hub, the port of Sabetta and an international airport.