Breaking the ice: China launches its 1st all-season Arctic LNG tanker

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China’s first ice-breaking tanker capable of carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the icy Arctic waters all-year round at minus 50 degrees temperatures, has officially been launched.

The Arc7 ice class vessel, developed by China’s Guangzhou Shipyard International, was given the name Boris Sokolov during a ceremony in South China’s Guangdong province on Tuesday. The vessel boasts the “unique” ability to operate in harsh Arctic winter even in temperatures below -50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit), according to local media citing deputy general manager of the shipyard.

The ship can carry 44,500 tons of cargo and has ice-breaking tools at both ends of the vessel, allowing it to cut through 1.8 meter thick ice and ice ridges below 15 meters (50ft).

The 214 meter long and 34 meter wide tanker was designed for Greek shipowner Dynacom and is to be used for the $27 billion Yamal LNG project in Russia’s Arctic. The project began operations last December in Russia’s northwest Siberia and has already shipped two million tons of LNG.

Tanker ‘Boris Sokolov’ © Global Look Press via ZUMA Press

In November, a tanker of a similar class to the newly-launched Chinese ship successfully reloaded an LNG cargo delivered from the Yamal LNG facility to the lower ice-class designated tanker ‘Pskov’. The reloaded liquefied gas will be delivered to customers in Northwest Europe, according to independent Russian gas producer and major Yamal LNG’s stakeholder Novatek.

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