Russia Aims to Strengthen Gas Tanker Fleet amid Sanctions

Russia is increasingly investing efforts in the financing and construction of its oil and gas exports infrastructure outside the influence of U.S. sanctions, Tanker Shipping reports.

At the Eastern Economic Forum earlier this month, а trilateral agreement on co-operation was signed between Sovcomflot (aka SCF Group), and state-run banks Vnesheconombank and VEB.

The companies involved have experience of cooperation in constructing two Arctic shuttle tankers (Mikhail Ulyanov and Kirill Lavrov) built to order for Sovcomflot Group, at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg, which are operated within the Prirazlomnoye offshore project operated by Gazprom Neft.

The deal “underscores the willingness of the parties to jointly participate in implementing shipbuilding projects at Russian shipyards and import substitution projects, based on the experience accumulated by Sovcomflot constructing various state-of-the-art vessels at domestic shipyards,” the companies said in a statement.

Currently, the Russian-owned Arctech Helsinki Shipyard is constructing a fully winterized year-round Arctic-class 44,000-dwt tanker. In April 2018, Sovcomflot signed off the financing of six LNG-powered Aframax tankers by international banks, which was agreed before the latest downturn in U.S.-Russia relations.

Russian tankers already carry liquefied natural gas to Western Europe and Asia through the much shorter Northern Sea Route, previously inaccessible due to ice. Most ships on the route fly Russian flags, and the country’s leaders plan to invest tens of billions of dollars in coming years to beef up polar shipping activity along the Northern Sea Route. China also wants to build a “Polar Silk Road” and redirect its cargo ships along the Russian route.