On 30 August 2011, the large-capacity "Suezmax" tanker Vladimir Tikhonov, owned by SCF Group (Sovcomflot), passed Cape Dezhnev thereby completing her transit along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – the most difficult part of the high-latitude route from Europe to Asia through the Arctic.
Vladimir Tikhonov is carrying a commercial cargo of over 120,000 tonnes of gas condensate. This voyage is the first time ever a ship of this size, namely over 160,000 tonnes deadweight (ice-class 1A), has transported a full consignment of the cargo using NSR route.
The vessel was escorted by world’s two most powerful nuclear icebreakers "50 let Pobedy" and "Yamal".
Vladimir Tikhonov’s passage followed a new deep-water route to the north of the New Siberian Islands archipelago. The total NSR transit was almost 2,200 nautical miles, from Cape Desire (New Earth Island) in the Kara Sea to Cape Dezhnev in the Bering Strait. It was accomplished by the tanker in record time - less than 7.5 days.
The expected time saving from the port of departure to the port of discharge, compared to the traditional route through the Suez Channel, amounts to some seven days. This represents a significant economic advantage and confirms the high potential and strategic importance of using high-latitude routes, to transport energy by sea from prospective oil & gas fields on the continental shelf of the Barents, Pechora and Kara Seas of Russia to world markets.
The tanker Vladimir Tikhonov began her voyage from the port of Murmansk, on the Northern Sea Route, on 20 August 2011 with a full cargo of gas condensate on board belonging to OAO NOVATEK. Her destination port is Map Ta Phut (Thailand).
Preparations for the voyage and studies of the navigation and hydrographic support en route, as well as environmental safety measures, were carried out in close cooperation with: the State Ministry of Transport; the State Corporation Rosatom; Federal Agency of Maritime and River Transport; Federal State Unitary Enterprise Atomflot; the Hydrographic enterprise and other government agencies.
For SCF Group this is the second transit voyage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean along the Northern Sea Route. In August 2010, this route was successfully completed by the “Aframax” class tanker SCF Baltica (deadweight over 100,000 tonnes). Until the voyage this year of Vladimir Tikhonov, she was the largest ship ever to complete the NSR route through the Arctic.
Sovcomflot President & CEO Sergey Frank said:
“The successful navigation of a large-capacity Suezmax class vessel along the Northern Sea Route is the result of complex and systematic work by SCF Group, which participates in large scale energy-projects on Russia’s continental shelf. Our focus is on the further development of economically viable and sustainable routes for hydrocarbons transportation, serving the evolving needs of major Oil & Gas companies. By opening up a new, commercially viable, route across the Northern Sea, SCF Group is effectively providing a ‘floating sea bridge’, linking the high potential offshore fields of Russia to major international energy markets”.