NOVATEK does not have enough tankers to transport gas from Yamal LNG

Leonid Mikhelson's company does not have enough tankers for exporting gas from the Yamal LNG project.
Accelerated launch of the second and third lines of the Yamal LNG project led to the fact that NOVATEK has to look for additional tankers for exporting gas. According to Kommersant's information, the company has already taken a Pskov gas carrier from the Gazprom subparty and is negotiating other LNG tankers with an ice class that could go directly to Sabetta in the Ob Bay this summer. But in the winter they will not be able to work on the Northern Sea Route. NOVATEK will either have to obtain permission to use the Arc4 tankers that it will receive under a contract with Dynagas, or transfer the transshipment point from Zeebrugge closer to Sabetta - possibly to the Murmansk region.

As it became known to Kommersant, NOVATEK is looking at the market for gas carriers with an ice class for the export of LNG from its project in Yamal during the summer. The company has already chartered the Pskov gas carrier, owned by Sovcomflot, on a short-term basis, and is in a long-term charter from Gazprom. Also, according to the sources of Kommersant, NOVATEK is in talks with the Japanese NYK about the freight for eight months of the gas carrier Grace Dahlia, which, like Pskov, has a low ice class Ice2 (the vessel can go under the icebreaker in ice 0 , 5 m).

According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant", NYK offered its tanker for $ 75 thousand per day, Gazprom wanted for Pskov $ 100 thousand per day, because there are very few free ships with ice class on the market. In Novatek, Kommersant confirmed that they chartered Pskov without commenting on the talks with the Japanese. "In order to optimize transportation costs, Yamal LNG is considering the possibility of attracting gas carriers with a low ice class in the summer navigation period, including sending LNG to Asian consumers via the Northern Sea Route, using the eastern route," the company explained.

The need to attract gas carriers from the market is caused by the fact that NOVATEK wants to launch the second line of the LNG plant in September instead of December, and the third - in January 2019 instead of the middle of the year. In addition, it turned out that the actual plant productivity is about 9% higher than the projected 5.5 million tonnes per line. Initially, it was assumed that the products would be exported specially built 15 gas carriers with an ice class Arc7. However, to finish them by the time of the accelerated input of the third line does not work. Therefore NOVATEK needs additional vessels capable of going directly to Sabetta in the Ob Bay.

In winter, the problem is exacerbated: ships with a low ice class in the Kara Sea can be used up to November, the sources say, "Kommersant" on the market. Yamal LNG has a contract for six Dynagas class gas carriers of Arc4 class, which will come into force from the beginning of 2019. These ships were originally intended for export of LNG from the Belgian Zeebrugge after transhipment from tankers Arc7, and also for calling in Sabetta in the summer. But now NOVATEK is considering using them in the winter, interlocutors of "Kommersant" say. According to one of them, NOVATEK will have enough to transfer four Arc4 tankers to work directly from Sabetta in winter, given the existing Arc7.

However, the problem is that according to the rules of navigation along the Northern Sea Route vessels with ice class Arc4 and Arc5 from December to June with an average type of ice conditions are not allowed to sail in the southwestern part of the Kara Sea, even with the icebreaker being posted. The FSBU "Administration of the SMP" (subordinated to the Ministry of Transport through Rosmorrechflot) has already had a conflict with Atomflot and NOVATEK concerning the posting of the tanker Boris Vilkitsky in March (see "Kommersant" on May 3). The meeting on changing the rules of posting Arc4 and Arc5 was held in Rosmorrechflot on June 18 (see "Kommersant" on June 18). Its results could not be clarified. In NOVATEK, they only stressed that they "are sure of the need to change the rules."

If this scheme is not used, NOVATEK still has the possibility of exporting LNG by a more complicated route - by moving the transshipment point from Zeebrugge to the northeast, for example, to the ice-free waters near Murmansk. Then the transport arm for the Arc7 tankers will be reduced and the capacity will be sufficient. The transhipment from the Arc7 tanker to the conventional tanker will take place according to the "board-to-board" scheme. "This is possible even without a reloading terminal, but a closed water area is necessary, that is, excitement of the sea should be ruled out," one of the interlocutors of Kommersant says. Roman Kazmin from ICIS Heren notes that the loss of gas in case of board-to-board overload is low and comparable with the losses during unloading in the terminal.