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Sovcomflot calls on Russian PM to ban ‘substandard ships’ in Northern Sea Route

Russia’s shipping group Sovcomflot has called on the Russian government to continue its drive to improve navigational safety measures on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and for a ban on substandard ships with untrained crew sailing in the environmentally sensitive region.

The call by Sovcomflot follows significant shipping traffic growth along the NSR and further projected growth.

At a meeting held on Monday, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and president and ceo of Sovcomflot Sergey Frank stressed on the necessity of taking additional measures to ensure navigational safety along the NSR.

In 2018, just the two energy projects in the Gulf of Ob (Novy Port and Yamal LNG), both served by Sovcomflot vessels, are expected to generate around 11.5m tonnes of freight alone, almost doubling the Soviet-era NSR peak record of 6.6m tonnes in 1987. SCF shuttle tankers has commenced year-round oil shipments from Novy Port for the first time as recently as September 2016, and Yamal LNG is expected to come onstream in late 2017.

On Sovcomflot’s operations in the Russian Arctic and the Russian Far East, Frank reported that as at end of second quarter 2017, over 200m tonnes of crude oil and more than 16m tonnes of LNG have been transported for energy projects in the Arctic seas and the Russian Far East since 2006.

During the first half of 2017 alone, Sovcomflot vessels transported 17m tonnes of crude oil from the Russian Arctic and the Russian Far East to consumers.

Frank expressed his conviction that given the vulnerability of the Arctic ecosystem, substandard vessels and vessels manned by inexperienced and poorly qualified crews should be banned from Arctic operations.

Sovcomflot has pioneered the switch to LNG as a primary fuel for its aframax tankers, as part of its environmental responsibility for using the NSR.

This year, the company has placed an order for a series of the first-ever aframaxes purpose-designed to be run on LNG. These new generation ice-class 114,000-dwt tankers are scheduled for delivery beginning in 2018.

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