LNG tanker damaged while transiting Northern Sea Route

LNG tanker NIKOLAY EVGENOV with LNG shipment from Sabetta, Yamal, Russia, bound for China, was transiting Northern Sea Route, Russian Arctic, in the wake of LNG tanker CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE, carrying the first lot. Both tankers were transiting NSR without icebreakers, in record-low temperatures, and record breaking time of the year, in January. Considering all odds, the idea of such an untimely transit looks kind of reckless. According to Russian media sources, while CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE safely completed transit, NIKOLAY EVGENOV reportedly, suffered one of three azipods damage, on final legs of the transit. If media sources are correct, the ship probably, will have to undergo dry docking in China or Korea, after offloading cargo. Charterer is the NOVATEK company, which runs Yamal LNG project. NOVATEK is planning several more trips via SNR, but next tankers will be escorted by icebreakers. Even NOVATEK and its’ CEO, one Mikhelson, got it – Arctic remains Arctic, all the route from Sabetta to Bering Strait being completely ice-covered (albeit young year-old, 0.3-2 meters thick), and this is no joke. It’s dangerous even with icebreakers, and though all media experts explain highly risky venture by exceptionally high LNG price in Asia, skyrocketed by exceptionally cold winter, it is, highly likely, only part of the riddle. There was, almost undoubtedly, some pressure implied on the part of China, to coerce involved parties into this dubious undertaking.
Ice class LNG tanker NIKOLAY EVGENOV, IMO 9750725, dwt 96821, built 2019, flag Bahamas, charterer NOVATEK, owner Yamal Arc7 LNG (50% у Teekay, 50%China LNG Shipment).
Ice class LNG tanker CHRISTOPHE DE MARGERIE, IMO 9737187, dwt 96779, built 2016, flag Cyprus, manager SCF, charterer NOVATEK.

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My name is Mikhail Voytenko, I’m Russian, professional merchant marine navigator, by education and former experience. I own and run Maritime Bulletin website for more than 10 years. I've been involved in solving a number of piracy hijack cases, including the hijack of ro-ro FAINA, loaded with tanks. It was me who made public, and unravel, freighter ARCTIC SEA mystery. I've been also closely involved in a number of maritime disaster, one of them being MSC FLAMINIA major fire.