Another Chinese LNG module arrives in Belokamenka

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There was dense snowing over the Kola Bay as the 160 meter long heavy load carrier Hunter Star on the 31st of March made port call in Belokamenka, the industrial hub located only few kilometres from the city of Murmansk.

On board was a module for Novatek’s gravity-based production unit currently under construction at the Belokamenka LNG Construction Center.

 

The Hunter Star arrives in Kola Bay on 31st of March 2024. Video by Belokamenka51 on VK

 

The Hunter Star had spent 2,5 months on its voyage from the Chinese port of Penglai. The shipment comes about one month after two other heavy lift carriers made it from the same Chinese port to Belokamenka with similar plant modules.

However, unlike the two ice-class carriers Audax and Pugnax, the Hunter Star did not sail the icy short-cut across the Northern Sea Route. The Panama-registered vessel that is owned by the Guangdong Nan Feng Shipping Company sailed the far longer route south of the African continent.

With the delivery of the module, Novatek is likely to soon complete the construction of its second gravity-based production unit for the Arctic LNG 2 project.

Images from the LNG Construction Center in Belokamenka made in late March show that the building of the unit might proceed in line with schedule.

The building of the first unit was finished in 2023 and towed to the project site on the coast of the Gydan Peninsula. The unit has a LNG production capacity of 6,6 million tons and is the first of three projected trains. It is reported to have started production in late 2023 and a tanker might have picked up the first load of LNG in February 2024.

 

The first LNG gravity-based production unit arrived in Gydan in August 2023. Photo: Belokamenka51 at VK

 

According to plan, the second unit is due to be towed to the port of Utrenneye in Gydan fall this year and start production in early 2025.

It is still not clear whether Novatek will be able to build the third gravity-based production unit as planned. Following the introduction of international sanctions in early 2022, Novatek was forced to look for alternative manufacturers of technology for the project. So far, it is the Chinese that have helped out the Russian natural gas company.

Chinese companies are also engaged in the Arctic LNG 2 as project owners.

International sanctions are increasingly complicating the development of the far northern energy project. In early November 2023, the U.S State Treasury included the Arctic LNG 2 in its latest round of sanctions. That will significantly trouble Novatek’s development of the third train of the Arctic LNG 2.

Originally, the Arctic LNG 2 was estimated to have an investment frame of about $21,3 billion. Novatek owns 60 percent of the project, while French energy company Total owns 10 percent, China’s CNPC – 10 percent, CNOOC – 10 percent and a consortium of Japan’s Mitsui & Co and JOGMEC – 10 percent.