Total buys 10 percent stake in Murmansk LNG terminal

The French major will own a stake in Arkticheskaya Perevalka, the subsidiary that will operate LNG transshipment hubs in the Murmansk and Kamchatka.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - April 29, 2021
Ship-to-ship reloading of LNG near Kildin Island will come to end when a new permanent terminal opens in Ura Guba. (Rosmorport via The Independent Barents Observer)

The French oil and gas company Total has acquired 10 percent of Arkticheskaya Perevalka, the subsidiary company of Russian gas giant Novatek that will operate a natural gas reloading facility on the Barents Sea coast, Novatek confirmed.

Arkticheskaya Perevalka will also operate a similar facility in Kamchatka on Russia’s Pacific coast. The terminals will be floating facilities that can hold up to 360,000 tons of liquefied natural gas each, and simultaneously serve two LNG tankers. When ready, ice-class carriers will shuttle between the terminals and LNG plants in the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas.

The new logistical scheme will cut costs and provide efficient transportation of liquified natural gas from the Arctic LNG 2, as well as other projects in the Arctic, Novatek informs.

The terminals will have a capacity to handle about 20 million tons per year and are due to be ready for operations in 2023.

Total has long been in talks with Novatek about a stake in the reloading terminals. Novatek’s leader Leonid Mikhelson said as early as 2019 that the French company was “interested in the operatorship of the terminal.”

“Actually we do not need partners up there [in Ura Bay], but we will still definitely hire an operator,” Mikhelson told news agency RIA Novosti during the World Economic Forum in Davos.”

“Perhaps, Total, which is our permanent partner, after all they want it [and] if their interest persists, then we will consent in order to let the company be part of the process and have a transparent circuit.”

According to Mikhelson, several more companies are interested in the two planned LNG terminals.

The terminal will be built by Korean yard Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, which in October 2020 signed a $748.2 million contract with the Russian State Transport Leasing Company. According to the deal, the terminal barges will be owned by the State Transport Leasing Company, but operated by Arkticheskaya Perevalka.

The development of the terminal in Ura Guba is considered highly tricky as the projected site is located only few kilometers from the closed military town Vidyaevo and a local Northern Fleet submarine base. The project was discussed in a high-level meeting with participation of government ministers, military leaders and company chiefs in August 2018.

The local navy base today houses several nuclear-powered submarines, including Sierra-II and Victor-III vessels.

Vidyaevo is located about 50 kilometers northwest of Murmansk, not far from the border to Norway. It has a deep and year-round ice-free fjord, and is considered among the most favorable spots for shipping and logistics on the Kola Peninsula.