MOSCOW — Shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. on Thursday put an icebreaker tanker into service in the Arctic Sea to transport liquefied natural gas from a Russian plant to Europe, becoming the first Japanese firm to own and operate such a vessel.
The ice-breaking carrier “Vladimir Rusanov” will deliver LNG from a gas plant in Sabbeta on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula to a port in Rotterdam in the Netherlands via the Arctic route, which shortens the journey time between Europe and Asia.
The vessel, named after a Russian Arctic explorer and geologist, is one of three icebreaker tankers Mitsui has ordered for the Yamal LNG project led by Russian natural gas producer Novatek.
The project began operation in December last year and has ordered a total of 15 ice-breaking tankers to transport LNG, with an eye to expanding its routes eastward to Asia in the future.
The Vladimir Rusanov, jointly owned by a Chinese shipping company, is expected to deliver LNG from the Yamal plant all year round. During the summer months, it is able to sail to East Asia via the Bering Strait.
Manufactured by Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., the 299-meter long, 50-m wide vessel is capable of sailing in seas with ice up to 2.1 m thick.