by John Konrad (gCaptain) According to the ship-tracking website Marine Traffic, the arctic LNG tanker Nikolay Yevgenov has arrived in the Pacific Ocean after transiting the Northern Sea Route with a cargo of Russian gas. The ship departed Russia’s Yamal LNG terminal on June 15th and sailed east to an undisclosed port in Asia.
The Yamal LNG port is a joint venture between Russian natural gas company Novatek and the Russian government. The port is located along the Northern Sea Route in Sabetta, Russia and includes a large LNG plant designed to process up to 16.5 million tons of Siberian natural gas each year.
The Northern Sea Route, historically called the Northeast Passage, is an Arctic shipping route that stretches more than 3,000 nautical miles (5,550 kilometers) between the Barents Sea, near Russia’s border with Norway, and the Bering Strait in the Northern Pacific. It’s the shortest possible route between Asia and Europe.
In August 2017 the ice-class LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie made the first unescorted voyage of an LNG carrier from Europe to Asia via the Northern Sea Route. The Yamal terminal began loading LNG aboard ships destined for Europe later that year and delivered its first arctic LNG shipment to China in 2018.
Novatek originally expected that global warming would allow year-round eastbound navigation from Yamal to China starting in the 2023 season, however, the Nikolay Yevgenov sustained damage to its azipod thrusters while attempting a winter transit without icebreaker assistance via the Northern Sea Route in January 2021.