Russian shipping company PAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group) has reported two successful voyages of LNG-fuelled vessels through arctic waters. On 30 October, Lomonosov Prospect, SCF’s large-capacity tanker, completed a commercial voyage along the Northern Sea Route (NSR). A week earlier, the oil tanker Gagarin Prospect completed her voyage across the Baltic and North Seas.
SCF says switching to cleaner-burning LNG fuel allows to significantly reduce the impact on the natural environment, emitting zero sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulates. They emit 76 per cent less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 27 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2) than similar vessels operating on heavy fuel oil.
Sovcomflot is gradually switching its conventional tanker fleet from traditional heavy fuel oil to LNG. This is to reduce its environment footprint and to comply with tightening sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions regulations, including the IMO’s global 0.5% sulphur cap, which takes effect in 2020.
The LNG-fuelled 250 metre Lomonov Prospect, which joined the SCF fleet in October 2018, delivered a cargo of petroleum products via the NSR from the Republic of Korea to Northern Europe.
The high-latitude voyage from Cape Dezhnev at Chukotka to Cape Zhelaniya of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago took the Arc4 vessel 7.8 days to complete, during which the tanker covered a distance of 2194 nautical miles.
During the voyage, the crew successfully tested the operation of the ship engines and controls of the fuel systems using LNG, as well as the operation of navigation equipment and machinery in ice conditions and sub-zero temperatures.
The successful voyage has confirmed the vessel’s high manoeuvrability and icebreaking capabilities, as well as being a highly safe, environmentally friendly and efficient vessel.
The LNG-fuelled Gagarin Prospect, delivered to SCF in July 2018, completed her voyage across the Baltic and North Seas from Primorsk to Rotterdam where she safely delivered a cargo of 104,815 tonnes of crude oil.
For the pioneering vessel, it marked her first export delivery of Russian crude oil under a long-term time-charter contract between SCF and Shell.
Gagarin Prospect is the world’s first Aframax crude oil tanker designed to operate on LNG as the primary fuel. She is the lead ship of the next generation of tankers, which will set a new standard of navigation safety and quality. Switching to cleaner-burning LNG fuel allows Sovcomflot to significantly reduce its impact on the natural environment. This is particularly important for ships in high-traffic areas such as the Baltic and North Seas where these ‘Green Funnel’ tankers will primarily operate.
On 2 October 2018, the inaugural LNG bunkering of Gagarin Prospect took place at the Port of Rotterdam, and on 15 October, the vessel loaded its first export cargo of Russian crude oil at the Port of Primorsk. Lomonosov Prospect is the second in the series of six Aframax tankers designed to operate on LNG as the primary fuel. Sovcomflot expects to have six such LNG-fueled Aframax tankers in operation by the beginning of Q2 2019.
In September 2018, Sovcomflot placed with Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex orders for a series of two similar LNG-fueled Aframax tankers, both of which will then be time-chartered to Rosneft for 20 years each.
On 18 October 2018, an event was held in Rotterdam to mark the success of the ‘Green Funnel’ project and the start of the successful operation of the tanker. All companies that were involved in this project were represented at the event.
Additionally, Sovcomflot will provide technical supervision during the construction of the five similar LNG-fuelled Aframax tankers for Rosneft, also ordered at Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex. Upon the delivery of these vessels, Sovcomflot provide the shipowner with a range of services to ensure the effective and safe management of these vessels, including the recruitment of high-skilled crews and their management.