Russia will begin year-round LNG shipments via the Arctic route of the NSR, a transit route spanning the entire length of Russia’s Far East and Arctic territories within its exclusive economic zone.
Sergey Zybko, the head of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) operator, revealed this week that Moscow intends to begin year-round LNG deliveries to Asia via Russia’s Arctic waterways.
Speaking at the symposium “Arctic: present and future,” Zybko stated that the pilot program’s launch is planned for the following month.
“Starting from January, gas carriers will move under icebreaker support, including during those months when they never sailed before – March, April and May. This will mean year-round navigation,” he said.
Due to thick ice, navigation in the eastern portion of the NSR is typically suspended in December and begins in June. Russian LNG is typically transported to Asia during the navigation pause by taking a longer route, which can take up to 45 days, via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Malacca, as opposed to the NSR’s 36 days.
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Experts observe that in the early phase, year-round navigation will probably only be possible for a small number of tankers and contribute minimally to overall exports, primarily because there are now not enough nuclear icebreakers. Analysts note that test shipments will allow for the assessment of the expense of icebreaker support for gas carriers as well as the possibility of using a single icebreaker to accompany a convoy of many tankers. The total cost of LNG exports will be influenced by both variables.
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This year, 3.84 million tonnes of Russian gas and oil were exported to Asia via the NSR. At 2.27 million tonnes, LNG supplies were essentially unchanged from the previous year, but oil deliveries increased, primarily as a result of exports to China. Compared to just one tanker in 2022, Russian oil companies sent 1.5 million tonnes of crude, or 14 tankers, via the NSR in 2023.
The NSR is a transit route that runs the whole length of Russia’s Far East and Arctic territories within its exclusive economic zone. With time, the route is going to play a significant role in the shipping of commodities from Europe to Asia. Because of its location, travel durations can be drastically shortened as compared to more conventional routes via the Suez or Panama Canal. Russia has made significant progress in developing the NSR during the last eight years by updating rail and river transportation corridors, as well as port facilities.