Sovcomflot and NYK ink order for up to six LNG carriers for Novatek



Latest deal at Samsung Heavy Industries brings Russian gas giant's recent acquisitions to 12 vessels

Russian shipowner Sovcomflot and partner NYK Line of Japan have signed a deal with Samsung Heavy Industries to build up to six LNG carriers for charter to gas giant Novatek.

The pair contracted to build a quartet of firm 174,000-cbm vessels and have also secured two options. The owners said they signed long-term time-charter contracts on the ships with Novatek Gas & Power Asia, a subsidiary of parent Novatek.

In an exchange announcement SHI priced the ships at KRW 959.3bn ($807.8m) referencing the buyer simply as an "Asia-based client".

This prices the vessels at almost $202m each.

The ships will be fitted with WinGD X-DF engines and have onboard reliquefaction units plus shaft generator systems that use the rotating propeller shaft for power generation.

They will also be built with GTT Mark III Flex cargo containment systems, which offers a boil-off rate up to 0.085 % per day.

The ice class 1A or Arc4 LNG carriers are scheduled for delivery from 2023 and will be handed over by the end of February 2024.

Doubling up

Sovcomflot’s president and chief executive Igor Tonkovidov said: "Sovcomflot’s development strategy envisages further expansion of its industrial business segment, which guarantees a steady income from fleet operations.

"The contracts signed are an important step in the development of our cooperation with NYK – a long-term partner of Sovcomflot," he said, adding that the two have previously worked together on LNG transportation for the Sakhalin 2 and Tangguh projects.

The newbuilding contracts mirror those inked by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in September.

MOL booked the same number of 174,000-cbm vessels, to be fitted with MAN Energy Solutions ME-GA engines, for delivery dates in 2024.

The contracts with the three shipowners will give Novatek eight firm ships with options to add a further four vessels, slightly more than originally expected.

These latest LNG carrier newbuildings are expected to be used to lift transshipped cargoes from the Novatek-led Arctic LNG 2 project during the winter months, potentially calling directly at the plant in summer when ice conditions allow.

The under-construction, 19.8-million-tonne-per-annum (mtpa) Arctic LNG 2 project on the Gydan Peninsula, to the east of the producing Yamal LNG plant, is due to start-up in 2023.

From next year Novatek is planning to put two large floating storage units (FSUs) in place close to Murmansk in the west and Kamchatka at the eastern end of the Northern Sea Route.

Novatek's chartered fleet of specialised ice-breaking Arc7 LNG ships will ship cargoes from both liquefaction plants to the FSUs so the lesser ice-class ships can take them on from there.

If Novatek decides to take on the optional LNG newbuildings secured by the three owners, this will boost the company's chartered LNG fleet to almost 50 vessels.

Russia has ambitions to produce 140 mtpa of LNG by 2035 and wants to see the NSR opened up to year-round navigation between 2024 and 2030.