New U.S sanctions take aim at Russian Arctic shipping

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US. authorities continue to lash out against Russian natural gas company Novatek and its LNG projects in the Arctic. An updated sanctions list made public by the U.S Treasury on May 1st includes a number of vessels of paramount importance for Russian Arctic shipping.

On the list are all the heavy lift carriers that have been involved in transportation of modules for the Arctic LNG 2, among them the Hunter Star, Nan Feng Zhi Xing, Audax and Pugnax.

The latter two sailed on the Northern Sea Route from the Chinese port of Penglai to Belokamenka near Murmansk mid-winter this year. On board were large modules for Novatek’s LNG Construction Center. In early April, the Hunter Star arrived in Belokamenka with a similar module.

The latter module was the 14th of the kind, and will allow Novatek to complete a second gravity-based production unit for the Arctic LNG 2.

On the sanctions list are now also a number of cargo ships actively used by Russian companies engaged in industrial development along the Arctic coast, among them the Arctica 1 and Arctica 2 as well as the Mys Shmidta and Mys Zhelania.

Also Russian owner companies Transstroy Limited and Eko Limited are included in the sanctions. Both of the companies are registered in the north Russian city of Arkhangelsk. The same goes for the Chinese company CFU Shipping Co Limited and Singapore-based RED BOX Energy Service.

The new sanctions will make it even harder for Novatek to continue the development of its Arctic LNG 2. The project that is planned to become the biggest LNG project in Russia with a production capacity of almost 20 million tons of LNG per year is from before marred by sanctions.

The U.S State Treasury in early November 2023 included the Arctic LNG 2 in its latest round of sanctions. Before that, several more U.S sanctions had targeted the Russian Arctic energy industry.

One after another, international partners have withdrawn from the project. Among them are several of the shipyards that were to build the LNG carriers. To a great extent, Novatek is now dependent on the new Zvezda Yard in Vladivostok for getting the needed fleet. However, Zvezda has great troubles with building the technologically very advanced ships.

On the sanctions list is also the Saam, a 400 meter long vessel projected to serve as transshipment hub for Novatek’s Arctic LNG. Since it arrived in Ura Guba on the Barents Sea coast in late June 2023, it has not handled a single shipment of liquified natural gas.