Novatek has commissioned the second liquefaction train at its Yamal LNG terminal in the Russian Arctic six months ahead of schedule, with the dispatch of an inaugural cargo. The shipment is being carried westbound along the Northern Sea Route to Europe by the 170,000 m3 Russian ice class Ice2 LNG carrier Pskov.
Each of the two working Yamal trains has a capacity of 5.5M tonnes per annum (mta). A third train of the same size is under construction and is also set to commence operations earlier than originally scheduled. A start-up time of “no later than early 2019” has been mooted.
Novatek, Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer, is also building a smaller, fourth train, of 0.9 mta, at Yamal LNG’s Sabetta site. Set for a late 2019 completion, this unit will employ the company’s proprietary liquefaction technology and is likely to be a precursor of future applications of the design in other Novatek LNG export projects.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) is building a fleet of 15 Arc7 icebreaking LNG carriers for lifting Yamal LNG cargoes. To date, five have been delivered and they have transported 47 cargoes, aggregating more than 3.5M tonnes of LNG since Yamal Train 1 commenced operations in December 2017.
Novatek is awaiting the completion of the second tranche of five Arc7 ships for the carriage of Train 2 cargoes. Now that the second train has come onstream earlier than planned, the gas company has asked DSME if the completion dates of the second five ships can be brought forward.
Novatek is also reviewing its shipping arrangements to optimise the time the Arc7 ships will serve in the high Arctic latitudes for which they were designed. This means chartering additional LNG carriers of a lesser ice class to which the Arc7 carriers can transship their cargoes at the earliest opportunity for onward delivery to the final customer. Transshipment locations near Murmansk in the west and Kamchatka in the east are under review.
The Sovcomflot-owned Pskov is a vessel of such a lesser ice class, as the Russian Ice2 notation is equivalent to an Arc4 rating. Chartered to Gazprom, Pskov has been sublet to Novatek to assist with Yamal LNG cargo liftings during the current tonnage shortage.
During the summer months, when the Arctic Sea ice cover is at its thinnest, it is possible for Arc4 ships like Pskov to sail westbound to Europe without the aid of an icebreaker escort. Such an escort would have been required if Pskov had been directed eastbound to Asia. The Arc7 icebreaking LNGCs can sail eastbound from Sabetta during the summer months without the need for an icebreaker escort.