On 29 March 2017, PAO Sovcomflot (SCF Group) participated as a partner in the “Arctic: Territory of Dialogue” International Arctic Forum, which was held in Arkhangelsk. The Group presented models of its high-tech vessels, designed for operating in high latitudes. These included the Arctic shuttle tankers Shturman Malygin and Mikhail Ulyanov, as well as the state-of-the-art LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie, which joined the SCF Group fleet on 27 March following the successful completion of ice trials.
Evgeniy Ambrosov, Senior Executive Vice-President of PAO Sovcomflot and Vice Chairman of the Arctic Economic Council addressed a panel session dedicated to energy production in the Arctic region. His report was devoted to effective transport solutions for large oil and gas projects in the region, on the basis of Sovcomflot’s practical experience gained from operating in the area over more than ten years. In his speech, Mr Ambrosov underlined that Sovcomflot is the leader in oil and gas transportation in severe ice conditions. Out of a fleet of 146 vessels, 74 ships have ice class notation. Meanwhile, 16 vessels are equipped with Azipod thrusters that are used for forward double acting propulsion in difficult ice conditions, and 12 vessels are equipped with dynamic positioning systems.
In his speech, Mr Ambrosov underlined that Sovcomflot is the leader in oil and gas transportation in severe ice conditions. Out of a fleet of 146 vessels, 74 ships have ice class notation. Meanwhile, 16 vessels are equipped with Azipod thrusters that are used for forward double acting propulsion in difficult ice conditions, and 12 vessels are equipped with dynamic positioning systems.
Mr Ambrosov noted that Sovcomflot launched its first sub-arctic project – Sakhalin-1 – in 2006 on the Sakhalin shelf. In 2008, the company began transporting crude oil as part of the Varandey Arctic project, which is currently serviced by three SCF shuttle tankers – the Vasily Dinkov, Kapitan Gotsky, and Timofey Guzhenko. On 1 March 2017, they had safely transported more than 51 million tonnes of Varandey oil.
In 2010-2011, after carefully studying the question with enterprises of the Russian Ministry of Transport, Atomflot and interested shippers, Sovcomflot organised experimental cargo voyages involving two tankers along high-latitude routes: SCF Baltika (deadweight – 117,100 tonnes) and Vladimir Tikhonov (deadweight – 162,400 tonnes). From 2010 to 2014, PAO Sovcomflot vessels carried out 16 high-latitude voyages, thanks to which it was proven that the Northern Sea Route could be used for commercial purposes in summer, and a new deep-sea route north of the Novosibirsk Islands was also created.
In 2014, Sovcomflot began transporting crude oil from the Prirazlomnoye field (Pechora Sea), for which two SCF Arctic shuttle tankers were built at Admiralteiskie Verfi (Admiralty Shipyards) of St. Petersburg – Mikhail Ulyanov and Kirill Lavrov. Together, they had transported 4.0 million tonnes of Arctic oil by the end of March 2017. In the autumn of 2016, Sovcomflot began carrying oil from the Novoportovskoye oil and gas condensate field.
A series of unique high ice-class Arc7 shuttle tankers was specially designed and built for this purpose – Shturman Albanov, Shturman Malygin, Shturman Ovtsyn – which can break through ice up to 1.8 metres thick. The tankers are equipped with a powerful propulsion unit, consisting of two Azipod thrusters with a total capacity of 22 MW. The tankers transported 1.3 million tonnes of Novoportovskoye oil by the end of March 2017. Mr Ambrosov noted that on the eve of the forum, the SCF fleet was boosted by the addition of an unique pilot ice-class Arc7 LNG carrier – Christophe de Margerie, built for the Yamal LNG project (Kara Sea). This is the world’s first ice-breaking Yamalmax LNG carrier.
At the end of his report, Mr Ambrosov stressed that commercial shipping in the Arctic will undoubtedly continue to grow, mainly thanks to the development of industrial and raw materials projects in the Russian Arctic zone. In 2016, there was a significant increase in the historical maximum of traffic in the Northern Sea Route (6.5 million tonnes in 1987). By 2020, this figure may be three times greater.
He noted that one of the main priorities for shipping companies working in high latitudes “is to comply with the highest possible standards of environmental safety”. “In the Arctic, we must use specially designed modern technology and attract highly professional personnel. Additional controls are required to comply with quality and other standards in high latitude navigation.” said Mr Ambrosov.
A report on transport security in the Arctic was presented at the panel session – “The Arctic – Territory of Transport Opportunities” – by Mikhail Suslin, Deputy Head of the Internal Audit Department and Chief Marine Inspector of PAO Sovcomflot. He noted that currently, shipping in the Arctic involves many risks: insufficient hydrographic study of certain areas in the Arctic Ocean; the year-round ice factor; and the need for qualified personnel.
Mr Suslin underlined that, to a large extent, these risks are mitigated by using high ice class vessels and electronic depth charts, interacting with terminals and regulators, and providing special ice training for marine specialists at training centres. In particular, he talked about Sovcomflot’s training centre (SCF TC) in St. Petersburg, which is equipped with Transas simulators that allow trainees to work with the full range of marine operations in the Arctic.