Severe ice conditions blocking LNG shipments

Thick sea ice has impeded Arctic shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia’s newly-built export plant in Yamal, according to Russia’s state-run nuclear-powered tanker company Rosatomflot.

Unseasonably severe ice conditions were also clogging routes to Asia through the Northern Sea Route (NSR), leading to the extension of the winter-spring navigation of Atomflot’s nuclear ice-breakers.

The Novatek-operated LNG facility’s fleet of LNG ice-breaking tankers aim to deliver gas to Northeast Asia along the NSR in summertime when ice sheets thin. In winter, LNG tankers take a westward route to Europe, where cargoes are reloaded onto waiting tankers for onward transport to Asia.

However, ice has formed on the sea channel in Ob Bay – where Yamal LNG is located – which has “paralysed the independent movement of ships”, Rostamflot said. The company said it would extend deployment of its nuclear-powered ice-breakers in the Bay for at least the first 10 days of July and go about dislodging ships stuck in the ice.