Russia’s first LNG bunkering vessel nears completion

Gazprom Neft says the construction of Russia’s first LNG bunkering vessel is in its final stage as the firm prepares for first operations in 2021.

According to the unit of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Keppel Singmarine recently completed the installation of the vessels’ tanks and other cryogenic equipment for transportation and storage.

To remind, Keppel Singmarine, a unit of Singapore’s Keppel Offshore & Marine, secured the contract to build the 5,800-cbm Arc4 ice-class vessel back in December 2018.

The yard installed two tanks, each with a capacity of 2,900 cbm, featuring a nickel-iron-based alloy.

Furthermore, the LNG bunkering vessel also received cryogenic equipment, including pumps and piping for loading and discharging LNG, and a tank cooling system.

The next stage in building the vessel will include installation of the cargo deck, while pipe-fitting and installation of cargo handling equipment remain ongoing, Gazprom Neft said.

As per the specifications, the vessel is 100 metres long, and 19 metres wide. With a 5,800-cbm cargo capacity the ship would need around eight hours to complete a single bunkering operation, according to the Russian firm.

Additionally, the Arc4 ice-class vessel will be able to navigate through ice of up to 80 cm thick independently propeled by its dual-fueled Warstila engines that will also use LNG as fuel.

VesselsValue data suggests that the ship has a market value of about $34 million.

“Seventy percent of key construction works are now complete: the ship’s hull has been assembled, and energy facilities have been installed, as have fuel tanks,” said Alexei Medvedev, the head of Gazpromneft-Marine Bunker.

“The next stage is going to be launching Gazprom Neft’s LNG bunker at sea,” he said.

Baltic LNG bunkering operations in 2021

Once ready in 2021, the LNG bunkering vessel will provide chilled fuel via ship-to-ship transfers throughout the Baltic Sea.

These include clients at major ports in St Petersburg, Ust-Luga, Primorsk and elsewhere, according to Gazprom Neft.

One of the major clients will be Russia’s Sovcomflot that has a series of LNG-powered tankers on order at the Zvezda shipyard. Gazprom Neft and Sovcomflot signed a LNG bunkering cooperation deal in June last year.

Besides the bunkering vessel, Gazprom’s unit has several plans to grow its LNG fuel business and build infrastructure in Russia but also abroad.

Earlier this year, Gazprom Neft, through its Gazpromneft Marine Bunker unit Gazpromneft Shipping, joined the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).

With this move, the firm became the first oil company in Russia to join the international LNG bunkering organization.

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