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LNG World Shipping

China launches its first Arc7 LNG carrier

Wed 12 Dec 2018 by Selwyn Parker

China launches its first Arc7 LNG carrier
China’s first Arc7 carrier, Boris Sokolov, heads north a few days after her launch (credit: AkerArctic)

It took a year longer than the original timetable but Boris Sokolov, the first Arc7 ice-class ever built in China, was launched late last week from the Guangzhou International shipyard and headed towards the North Sea Route, the waters for which the vessel is designed.

Owned by Greece-based Dynacom Tankers Management, Boris Sokolov will be dedicated to the giant Yamal LNG project, transporting the gas year-round through Arctic waters in temperatures as low as -50°C.

One of the highest-standard Arc7 vessels ever designed, the tanker can cope with ice 1.8 m thick without the support of icebreakers. “There are not many tankers in the world with an ice-class this high,” said Mauri Lindholm, the senior designer for AkerArctic, the Finnish company that handled the commission for the vessel.

At a length of 214 m and a beam of 34 m, Boris Sokolov has a deadweight of 43,300 tonnes and a cargo capacity of 44,500 tonnes. The tanker is propelled by two Wärtsilä diesel-electric engines.

Although late, the timing of the launch coincides with the inauguration of the third train at the Yamal project on 11 December, as Total announced in Paris exactly a week after the 100th cargo left the peninsula. Exports from the third train will start immediately.

According to industry sources, Boris Sokolov, named for the legendary captain of the first nuclear-powered icebreaker, will shuttle between Sabetta, the new terminal on the peninsula, and ports in Europe and Asia. Although designed primarily for LNG deliveries, the vessel can also be used as a conventional oil tanker, according to designers AkerArctic.

It is the Finnish designers who first conceived the idea of LNG carriers that could transport LNG on a year-round basis without the assistance of icebreakers. That was in 2014 and the technology has evolved with each Arc7 vessel. In the case of Boris Sokolov, explains AkerArctic, the tanker can push straight through thick ice when operating stern first and penetrate ice ridges without backing and ramming.

In moderate ice conditions and open water, it sails normally in ahead direction.

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