More Russian tankers to ply Arctic route despite cost

Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:19pm GMT

*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...

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