The marketing arm of OAO Gazprom reports an LNG carrier it holds under charter successfully delivered last month the first LNG cargo via the “Northern Sea Route,” that is, over the top of Europe to Asia via seas usually icebound (OGJ Online, Jan. 9, 2012).
Gazprom Marketing & Trading (GMT) employed the 147,500-cu m Ob River LNG carrier operated by Dynagas (Greece) to move a cargo during Nov. 9-18 of this year from Statoil’s Snohvit plant in Hammerfest, Norway, to Japan’s Tobata regasification terminal.
The company reported that waters of the Barents and Kara seas were mostly ice-free on the voyage, but passage between Vilkitskogo and Bering straits encountered “young ice” nearly 1 ft thick.
The Northern Sea Route, or Northeast Passage, said the announcement, is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along the north coast of Siberia, most of the route being in Arctic waters. Icebreakers open navigation fairways in order to extend the navigation period.
“This strategic route cuts the maritime distance from Northern Europe to Northeast Asia by up to 40%, compared with southern sea routes via the Suez or Panama canals,” according to GMT.