Russian Nuclear Icebreakers Escort Gas to China


"Route could slash transport time for regular O&G delivery to Asia."

Russian Nuclear-Powered IcebreakerTwo Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers will escort a tanker transporting gas condensate from Russia to China via the Arctic rather than through the Suez Canal. The trial run is aimed at slashing the time it takes to ship oil and gas to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sovcomflot's Baltika tanker, with a deadweight of over 100,000 tons, left Russia's NW port of Murmansk on August 14th. It will be joined later by Atomflot's Russia and 50 Years of Victory nuclear-powered icebreakers. The ships will travel some 7,000 miles to reach China vs. the 12,000 it takes via the traditional Suez Canal route. The icebreakers will clear a way through the ice of the Northern Sea Route, which accounts for some 3,000 miles of the journey.

Shipments from the European part of Russia to the Far East via the Northern Sea Route have not occurred for many years. However, the latest shipment is the first of its kind using such a high-tonnage tanker via that route. The main purpose of the trial journey, Sovcomflot said, was to determine the possibilities of delivering oil and gas safely and economically to Asia on a regular basis via the Northern Sea Route.

During the voyage, statistical data will be collected to lay the basis for planning similar shipments in 2011 and to further research needed to plot new deep-water shipping routes in the Arctic.

The vessels are expected to clear the icy waters of the Northern Sea Route August 2629. The Baltika will then continue alone to an undisclosed Chinese port, where it is scheduled to arrive during the first half of September.

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