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Sovcomflot hopes navigation on Northern Sea Route to be possible for 6 months

August 06, 2013, 14:59 UTC+3

"Room for a free navigation under the escort of icebreakers became longer for two weeks," Sovcomflot Director General Sergei Frank said

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NOVO-OGAREVO, August 6 (Itar-Tass) - The navigation on the Northern Sea Route can be extended to six months a year soon, Sovcomflot Director General Sergei Frank said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin here on Tuesday.

The president asked the chief executive of the company, how long the Northern Sea Route will be closed in the course of the year. Frank noted that this year the transportation of hydrocarbons and in general the navigation of large-tonnage ships began two weeks before the navigational season in 2010, 2011 and the previous year. “Thus, a room for a free navigation under the escort of icebreakers, certainly, with all requirements and conditions of the authorities of the Northern Sea Route fulfilled, became longer for two weeks,” the Sovcomflot chief said, adding that the last trip was made in the previous year on November 29.

Frank noted that the Sovcomflot tanker Yenisei set out for another trip from Murmansk to Japan along a high latitude route of the Northern Sea Route. “Actually this route is reviving obviously,” he noted.

The chief of the company added that this can be said that the use of a high latitude route with a proper navigation support and the escorting of icebreakers gives already a stable and reliable period of five months of free navigation. “Though the upgrading of equipment, the construction of additional, new generation of icebreakers should provide a period of six months of free navigation for us in ideal, if the tendencies, which we observe now on the Northern Sea Route, will continue,” Frank said at a meeting in Novo-Ogarevo.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the company shared some results of the work. For instance, for the last seven years of implementing the strategy the number of ships in the fleet has tripled. “We began with four million DWT in 2005 and today the fleet has 12 million DWT,” Frank noted. For this period of time liquefied natural gas delivery technologies were put into practice, shuttle shipments in the Russian Arctic Region were set going. “For the first time in our practice, we continue to gain the experience on the Northern Sea Route, several trips will be made this year,” he added.

Putin asked about the operation of the company on the continental shelf. Frank noted that in the 90s and the 2000s the main booster in the growth of the company was sooner the foreign market and freight shipments of foreign freight companies. “We have redirected this strategy to the demand of Russian companies and in this sense we did not lose anything, because now Russian projects on the continental shelf is the main driver of growth,” the Sovcomflot chief said. The company delivers all crude and liquefied gas from the Sakhalin projects and crude from the Varandey project.

Frank also noted that a new supply icebreaker Alexei Chirikov arrived on Sakhalin in the interests of Rosneft and Exxon in the Sakhalin-1 project. The icebreaker was built in partnership between Russian and Finnish shipbuilders. This series of ships will be developed in the future. “We are participating in Gazprom’s tender for four ships for the Sakhalin-2 project,” he noted.

“This is a very pleasant piece of news: we put into operation a ship for the liquefied gas delivery in the interests of Sibur Voronezh. This is Russian projects, a good dynamics in Russian projects that actually permits us to keep afloat amid a crisis on the international market of tanker shipments,” Frank noted.

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