Christophe de Margerie arrives at Yamal LNG’s Sabetta terminal – a unique voyage along the Northern Sea Route completed


At 16:30 Moscow time on 19 February, LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie completed an experimental voyage en route Sabetta-Jiangsu (China)-Sabetta along a high altitude section of the Northern Sea Route, and moored to Sabetta terminal.

For the first time in history, a large-capacity cargo vessel completed a transit passage along the eastern sector of the Arctic in February.
On her return voyage, from Cape Dezhnev to Sabetta, the gas carrier was escorted by 50 Let Pobedy icebreaker. The convoy covered a total distance of 2,500 nautical miles along the Northern Sea Route, taking 11 days and 10 hours to complete the journey.

Throughout the voyage, the vessel maintained a safe speed, given the ice and weather conditions. The most challenging part of the voyage involved passing through hummocks in the Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea.

Igor Tonkovidov, President and CEO of Sovcomflot, said:

"As a result of the early NSR voyage completed by Christophe de Margerie in May 2020, as well as the current NSR voyage, the navigation in the Eastern part of the Arctic was practically doubled. Increasing the period of Arctic navigation means this high latitude transport corridor can be used more efficiently, which will benefit both the Russian and global economies."

The successful completion of this round trip by the gas carrier in January-February 2020 came as a result of many years of consistent efforts by Sovcomflot and NOVATEK to develop the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route. The two companies have been cooperating with Rosatom’s ice breaker shipowning arm Atomflot since 2010 to implement a programme to conduct experimental cargo voyages along the Northern Sea Route.

The priorities for Arctic voyages include:

  • Studying the icebreaking capabilities of large-capacity cargo vessels when navigating under the typical conditions on the Northern Sea Route during various periods of the year when travelling independently and as part of convoys;
  • Assessing the quality, reliability and timeliness of data that can be obtained about the ice conditions from various sources (AARI, Skaneks, the ice maps of foreign research centres);
  • Assessing the effectiveness of the on-board equipment and mechanisms, as well as the remote surveillance and monitoring systems used to monitor such equipment and mechanisms, in order to detect and eliminate possible malfunctions;
  • Implementing versatile professional training for crews, as well as internships for cadets from vocational schools who are training to become seafarers in the Arctic.

Alexander Andreev, Master and Advisor to the CEO of PAO Sovcomflot, noted:

"During the voyages of Christophe de Margerie, the company gathered large amounts of information that will be processed and taken into account when planning future voyages. This will allow us to improve the safety of navigation and the economic efficiency of cargo carriage along the Northern Sea Route."

SCF Press Service

PAO Sovcomflot (MOEX:FLOT) is one of the world's leading energy shipping companies, specialising in the transportation of crude oil, petroleum products, and liquefied gas, as well as the servicing of offshore oil and gas production. As of the date of this release, the Group’s fleet comprises 145 vessels with a total deadweight of 12.7 million tonnes, including vessels owned through joint ventures. More than 80 vessels have an ice class.

SCF is involved in servicing large oil and gas projects in Russia and around the world: Sakhalin-1; Sakhalin-2; Varandey; Prirazlomnoye; Novy Port; Yamal LNG, and Tangguh (Indonesia). The Group is headquartered in St. Petersburg, with offices in Moscow, Novorossiysk, Murmansk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, London, Limassol, and Dubai.

Information about the voyage

On 5 January 2021, Christophe de Margerie left the Port of Sabetta with a cargo of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG project and headed east for the Port of Jiangsu in China. 

In 10 days and 21 hours, the vessel completed the voyage along the Northern Sea Route without icebreaker support, reached Cape Dezhnev.

On 26 January, the tanker arrived Jiangsu, where she successfully discharged the LNG and set off on ballast passage.

On 7 February, the gas carrier reached the southern tip of Cape Dezhnev, where she met the 50 Let Pobedy nuclear-icebreaker, which escorted her on the voyage back along the Northern Sea Route.

On 19 February at 16:30 Moscow time, Christophe de Margerie moored to Yamal LNG’s Sabetta terminal.