SCF’s LNG-fuelled Aframax tankers

Maritime transport is one of the foundations of the global economy. More than 80% of all world trade cargoes and about 60% of foreign trade cargoes of the Russian Federation is transported by sea.

By level of harmful emissions into the atmosphere per cargo unit transported at a distance unit maritime transport is the safest for the environment of all kinds of transportation. But it is not the time to relax. Environmental standards for the maritime transport are becoming tougher. Public expectations of diminishing anthropogenic influence on environment are also increasing. The compliance with the new requirements and capacity for new technologies update and adoption have become one of the elements of competitiveness in our industry.

Sovcomflot being Russia’s largest shipping company and a world leader in maritime transportation of oil and gas in the adverse climatic and ice conditions is completely placed within this global context. Daily the company's vessels make calls at more than 100 ports on five continents. That is why one of the company top priority tasks is to provide a full compliance of the fleet with both the existing and prospective standards of international conventions.

A decrease of emissions into the atmosphere is one of the main targets of this work. In 2020 new requirements come into force which significantly limit an admissible emissions level of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases in the Baltic, North and Mediterranean seas. These are the regions through which the main routes of the Russian oil export shipment pass.

The expansion of environmental monitoring zones for the maritime transport raises the question of diversification of marine fuel types and requires from the shipping companies a considered compliance strategy depending on navigation zones.

On the basis of the vast operation experience in partnership with oil and gas and shipbuilding companies Sovcomflot being the world largest operator of Aframax tankers initiated a switch of a whole trade market segment to a more efficient "green" technology: our company was one of the first in the shipping industry who decided to operate Aframax ships, specially designed for alternative fuel - liquefied natural gas.

The transition to LNG as a fuel by its importance is comparable to the technological revolution which took place in the beginning of the 20th century when the world trade fleet refused from using coal in favour of fuel oil and diesel oil. This project is a good example that the Russian company in fact sets the tone for the technological development of a world shipping industry segment.

The advantages of LNG operation are most evident in figures: the reduction of sulfur oxides and black carbon emissions reaches 100%, nitrogen oxides emissions decrease by 76%, and carbon dioxide emissions - by 27% as compared with power plants running on conventional heavy fuel.

Sovcomflot could do such a step also because of its own engineering school, which is being developed by the company for many years. This sets SCF apart from the majority of competitors. It was technical experts of Sovcomflot with the close involvement of the Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center who designed the conceptual project of new generation tankers.

The new generation Aframax tankers of Sovcomflot appeared in the world energy transportation market in the second half of 2018. Gagarin Prospect is the first of these. The choice of name of the 114,000-dwt Gagarin Prospect was inspired by the first Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. The vessel entered into a Shell multi-year time charter in July 2018. A sister ship, Samuel Prospect, named in a salute to the founder of Shell Transport & Trading Co, Sir Marcus Samuel, is scheduled for delivery into Shell time charter next year. The ships have an ice class 1B which allows to transport oil all year round from the areas with difficult ice conditions, including subarctic seas.

SCF executs this project with the largest world oil and gas concern Royal Dutch Shell and the Russian company Rosneft.