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LNG Arctic odyssey in times of climate change

Photo: Gazprom

First ever LNG tanker from Finnmark sailed to Japan via the Northern Sea Route successfully accomplished safely in a sign that climate changes is impacting energy transport. See the photos from the pioneer voyage.

Location

The tanker “Ob river” – chartered by Russia’s Gazprom Group has arrived at the Japanese LNG terminal in the port of Tobata with liquefied gas from Statoil’s Melkøya plant on Norway’s Barents Sea coast.

Sailing the route in November would only a few years ago been a real challenge due to the ice conditions along the north coast of Siberia. Not so today.

Gazprom reports that during the first half of the voyage, between the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea, there was not much ice in the waters. For the second half of the Northern Sea Route, from the Vilkitski Strait to the Bering Strait, the carrier headed through only young ice with the thickness reaching maximum 30 centimeters.

“Ob river” is ice-classed and was escorted in three stages by the nuclear powered icebreakers “50 Years of Victory”, “Rossia” and “Vaigach.” On board the LNG tanker was a group of experts from Russia’s Krylov State Research Center and Sovcomflot conducting studies of ice navigation.

Gazprom concludes the voyage by stating that the success opens for future deliveries of Russian LNG to the Asia-Pacific and European market via the Northern Sea Route. The route reduces trip time from northern Europe to northeast Asia at almost 40 percent, comparing with the routes via the southern seas and oceans, like via the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal.

The Arctic LNG voyage was concluded simultaneously as the UN climate change negotiations in Doha ends with an absence of commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.