More Russian tankers to ply Arctic route despite cost
*Sovcomflot to ship 300-400,000 tonnes condensate via Arctic
*Icebreakers to clear way for Novatek's cargoes
*Arctic route more expensive than Suez-Sovcomflot official
By Jessica Bachman
MOSCOW, April 20 (Reuters) - Russia's Sovcomflot will ship 3-4 cargoes of stable gas condensate from northwest Russia to Asia via the Arctic sea this year on behalf of Novatek NOTK.MM a senior Sovcomflot official said on Wednesday.
"We are planning to ship between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes this year," he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on the Russian Arctic.
Each 100,000-tonne cargo of condensate will be shipped between the warm-weather months of July and November, when the ice cover is more manageable, he said.
This year's first shipment will mark the second voyage ever of a tanker carrying hydrocarbons across the so-called Northern Sea Route, which trims 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km) from the 11,000-mile journey via the Suez Canal.
Last August Novatek, Russia's second largest gas producer, loaded 70,000 tonnes of gas condensate produced from its Arctic deposits onto a high-tonneage Sovcomflot tanker in Russia's northern port city of Murmansk. Continued...