Historical operation: two LNG carriers meet in High Arctic in January

The icebreaking LNG carriers Christophe de Margerie and Nikolay Zubov are about to pull off an unprecedented feat: both are transiting Russia’s Northern Sea Route in January, and they are on track to pass each other at a location in the East Siberian Sea — without icebreaker escort.

On January 5, Christophe de Margerie departed from the LNG terminal in Sabetta in an easterly direction, heading for the Chinese port of Dalian. Eleven days earlier, Nikolai Zubov left Dalian for Sabetta. The first is expected to arrive in China on January 26th. The second should come to Sabetta on January 16th. Never before have two LNG сarriers made such parallel voyages along the Northern Sea Route at this time of the year. Both go without icebreaker escort.

It is not the first time that one of Novatek’s icebreaking LNG carriers has transited the Northern Sea Route in January, but the simultaneous, unescorted voyages suggest that the viable navigation season on the NSR is growing much longer. In 2020, the first eastbound unescorted voyage from Novatek’s Yamal LNG terminal departed in mid-May, and Novatek / Sovcomflot intend to operate their specialized vessels on the route as late as February this year.

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