A First for Arctic Shipping
A ship owned by ZPMC Red Box Energy Services, a Netherlands-based marine-transport services provider, became the first cargo vessel to sail construction equipment along the Northern Sea Route—a shipping lane north of Russia—during the winter months. The shipment consisted of three 6,000-ton modules.
The Audax, which is capable of breaking through ice up to five feet thick arrived on January 4 in the port of Sabetta, on the Yamal Peninsula, where the components were delivered for use in the construction of the Yamal LNG project.
The ship departed Qingdao, China, in November, passing first through the Bering Strait, and then westbound along the Northern Sea Route, where it was escorted by Russian icebreakers for part of the transit.
Sabetta is only accessible by vessels capable of icebreaking outside of the summer months. This particular shipment was necessary for the completion later this year of a $27 billion natural-gas liquefaction plant, being built by Novatek, its Russian-majority owner, Total, a French company, and the China National Petroleum Corporation, a state-owned enterprise.
The Audax, and the Pugnax, a sister ship, were built for specifically for threse kinds of deliveries to Arctic ports and were put in service by ZPMC Red Box Energy Services last year. Both can operate year-round in the Arctic and are expected to continue serving the Yamal site.
“We invested a lot over the last two years in the training and preparation of our crews for this voyage,” said Philip Adkins, the company’s managing director.
In April, both vessels sailed to Sabetta from China. On that ocassion, they sailed eastward on the Northern Sea Route, after departing southern China and sailing through the Suez Canal.
The two ships are scheduled to make additional deliveries to the Yamal site this winter after receiving equipment in the port of Zeebrugge, in the Netherlands, from China.