Russia’s Gazprom Neft launches flagship icebreaker

A sign displaying the logo of Russia’s Gazprom Neft at the company’s office in the West Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, January 28, 2016. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)
Icebreaker “Aleksandr Sannikov” will open the way to the company’s oil terminal in the Gulf of Ob (Russian Arctic).

It is as efficient as a nuclear-powered icebreaker, says the oil company as it raises the flag on its new vessel. The “Aleksandr Sannikov” is 121 meters long and able to break through two-meter-thick ice. It will assist tankers shuttling to and from the company’s Arctic Gate oil terminal in the Gulf of Ob.

“This will be the new flagship in our Arctic fleet”, Gazprom Neft General Director Vadim Yakovlev said in the ceremony that took place on the 29th of June. A second vessel of the class, the “Andrey Vilkitsky” will follow in October this year, the company informs.

The ships are designed by Aker Arctic and built at the Vyborg yard in St. Petersburg.

See pictures of the “Aleksandr Sannikov” (in Russian):

Russia’s best diesel icebreakers

According to Gazprom Neft, the new ships are the technologically most advance diesel-engined icebreakers in the country. They have state of the art systems for manoeuvring, fuel efficiency and radio navigation.

They will significantly enhance efficiency and stability in oil shipments to and from the world’s only Arctic oil terminal located in fresh water, the company says.

The launch of the “Aleksandr Sannikov” comes as ice conditions in the Gulf of Ob are the most complicated in several years. Companies in early June said that independent shipping without icebreakers in the area is “paralysed” and that tankers and LNG carriers were getting ice-locked.

Arctic drilling operations expanding

The Arctic Gate terminal is located in the Gulf of Ob, near Cape Kamenny. The first oil was shipped out from the terminal in 2014, and winter out-shipments started in 2015. It was launched as part of the Novy Port oil field development. Gazprom Neft intends to ship out up to eight million tons of oil per year from the installation.

A fleet of six top-class Arctic tankers are built for the project. The first vessels of the new fleet, the “Shturman Albanov” and the “Shturman Malygin” were put on the water in early 2016. The third fleet tanker, the “Shturman Ovtsyn” set course for the history books when in mid-winter 2017 it left the yard of the Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea, made it through the Bering Strait and sailed all the way to Yamal (Russian Arctic). Later, also the “Shturman Shcherbinin” and the “Shturman Koshelev” were built.

The oil is shipped to Murmansk where it is reloaded to terminal tanker “Umba” and subsequently taken further to Rotterdam.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Ottawa makes deal to buy three icebreakers for Canadian Coast Guard, CBC News

China: China opens bids for its first nuclear-powered icebreaker, The Independent Barents Observer

Finland: US icebreaker investment could bring 2 billions euro windfall to Finland, Yle News

Norway: Norway to build three large Coast Guard ships for Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Powerful LNG tankers head for China through thick Arctic ice, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: U.S. Coast Guard turns to Canada for help with designing its new heavy icebreaker, Radio Canada International

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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