On 8 December 2017, the icebreaking LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie completed her first loading at the Port of Sabetta, on the Yamal Peninsular, with her first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) produced at the Yamal LNG plant.
The ceremony was attended by: the Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with Sergey Belousov, Aide to the President; Sergey Donskoy, Russia’s Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection; Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade; Alexander Novak, Russia’s Minister of Energy; Maxim Oreshkin, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development; Anton Siluanov, Russia’s Minister of Finance; Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s Minister of Transport; Dmitry Kobylkin, Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District; Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman & CEO of Novatek, Sergey Frank, President & CEO of Sovcomflot, and representatives from Total, CNPC, and Silk Road Fund.
Vladimir Putin said: “This is a remarkable day for us all. I congratulate all those who worked on this project, on this wonderful occasion, the first loading of a new tanker named after our friend Mr. de Margerie. Unfortunately, he is not with us today but we have a tanker named after him. He was one of the pioneers of this project. This is an extremely important sector for Russia. This is not just an important event in our country’s energy sector, or gas production and liquefaction. This is a more ambitious project. What I mean is that we are faced with the enormous task of developing the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route.”
Sergey Frank noted: “Today’s event marks a milestone moment in the history of the development of the Russian Arctic. Never before have merchant vessels of such a heavy tonnage been able to operate in such extreme navigational and ice conditions, as the ones at Yamal, independently and year-round. The technical capabilities of Christophe de Margerie-type LNG carriers arouse sincere admiration, and just a while ago it seemed fantastic that such vessels could exist. Today’s event was preceded with a thorough preparation that lasted for close to 10 years, during which Sovcomflot has undertaken increasingly challenging shipping projects in the Arctic basin. This vast experience helped to devise an efficient and safe logistics scheme for the Yamal LNG project. We are glad that Yamal LNG duly appreciates the contribution of Sovcomflot, which is why it was our vessel that was entrusted to transport the very first LNG produced here.”
Christophe de Margerie is the first in a series of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers ordered for the Yamal LNG project, to transport LNG year-round in the challenging ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob. Her appearance signaled the market debut for Yamalmax ships, a new class of vessel. The design of Christophe de Margerie has already been duly appreciated by oil and gas industry experts: on 7 December 2017, the vessel won the award for Engineering Project of the Year at the 2017 S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards.
The vessel is capable of sailing independently through ice of up to 2.1 metres thick. She has been assigned an ice-class Arc7, the highest ice class amongst existing merchant vessels. The power of Christophe de Margerie's propulsion system is 45 MW, a capacity comparable to that of a modern nuclear icebreaker. The propulsion system includes three Azipod units which provide a high ice-breaking capability and manoeuvrability. Christophe de Margerie became the world’s first merchant vessel with a high ice class to have three Azipod units installed.
Christophe de Margerie can sail unassisted along the Northern Sea Route westward from Yamal all year-round, and eastward for six months of the year (from July to December) to the ports of Asian-Pacific Region (APAC) countries. Previously, the summer navigation window in the eastern area of the Northern Sea Route was limited to only four months with icebreaker support.
The all-Russian crew numbers 29, including Sergey Zybko, the Master of the vessel, and 12 other officers. Each officer has significant Arctic shipping experience (Sovcomflot has been training its seafarers to operate LNG carriers in challenging ice conditions since 2008) and has undergone extensive additional training at Sovcomflot’s own training centre in St. Petersburg.
The LNG carrier was named after Christophe de Margerie, the former CEO of Total, who had played a key role in developing investment decisions and a technological basis for the Yamal LNG project. He had also made a major contribution to the development of Russo-French economic relations in general.
Source: SCF Group