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The new Russian shipyard must prove its ability to make tankers

The new Russian shipyard must prove its ability to make tankers

18.07.2018
Tags:Russia, Ships, Oil, Building, Analytics, Economics

Rosneft enlarged its portfolio of orders for the Far Eastern "Star" on 10 Arctic shuttle tankers. This is the largest in the history of the serial order of ice-class vessels at Russian shipyards. However, this is still not enough for the new shipyard. Why is Zvezda being created specifically for oil and gas companies receiving orders from only one company so far?

Rosneft's daughter Rosnefteflot has commissioned the construction of ten Arctic shuttle tankers with a deadweight of 42 of thousands of tons each at the Zvezda Far East shipyard. The delivery of the first tanker is expected in 2023 year. Further, Rosnefteflot will transfer these tankers to a time charter for 20 years to the structure of the Independent Oil Company (NOC) Taimyrneftegaz. That is, these ships with the crew will be hired for 20 years for rent.

Tankers of the reinforced ice class ARC7 are intended for operation in ice thickness up to 1,8 m at a temperature up to minus 45 degrees.

A new series of tankers is planned to be used to transport oil produced at the Payakhsky deposit from the mouth of the Yenisei River along the Northern Sea Route, both in the western and the eastern directions.

This is the largest in the history of the serial order of ice-class vessels at Russian shipyards. Prior to this, the portfolio of orders of the ascending "Stars" numbered 14 ships, now - 24. However, this is still very small in order to load the shipyard up to 2035 year. And this is the strategic plan. To enter the positive economy of the company until 2035, "Zvezda" should be entrusted with a portfolio of 188 ships, the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin said at the beginning of September.

At the same time, Vladimir Putin demanded that not only Rosneft, but also Gazprom, NOVATEK and other Russian oil and gas companies, too, finally begin to order the construction of ships at Russian shipyards, and not abroad. The matter is that the shipyard was originally conceived as specializing in the construction of ships and equipment for use in the development of hydrocarbon resources, including the shelf. The president promised to personally monitor the implementation of the main strategic goal - the creation of a full-fledged line of medium- and large-tonnage ships and marine equipment on the Zvezda. In September, commissioned by Rosneft, four multifunctional supply vessels were laid (they were named "Vladimir Monomakh", "Alexander Nevsky", "Catherine the Great" and "Saint Mary").

Why are other oil and gas companies in no hurry to throw Zvezda orders? One of the reasons is the fall in oil prices, coupled with sanctions. New realities have made the development of hard-to-reach fossils in the Arctic extremely expensive, many projects have to be postponed to a time when oil prices will grow or new technologies will be created that will cheapen production. On the other hand, due to the sanctions, Russian oil and gas producers lost the opportunity to use certain foreign technologies and equipment, as well as their finances, which also led to the freezing of a number of projects. Thus, the demand for vessels necessary in the work of oil companies also fell.

However, there are other reasons. First Vice-President of the Russian Union of Engineers Ivan Andrievsky believes that it's the matter of getting our companies used to the proven quality of foreign vessels and unwillingness to wait for the products of the "Star". However, Putin's appeal should contribute to a gradual transition to Russian power. "As with many projects on import substitution, this is again a matter of time. Russian tankers should show themselves well, then the volume of orders will increase. Unfortunately, while the forecast is such that it will take more than one year to fully download the "Star", says Andrievsky.

Finally, the third reason is the lack of competence in the construction of some of the vessels that Russian companies need right now. So, NOVATEK still needed tanker gas carriers of the ice class yesterday to transport Yamal LNG products. However, the company ordered them not at the Russian, but at the South Korean shipyard. The first of 15 gas tankers NOVATEK has already received, the gas carrier has passed the test and has already managed to set a record, having passed the Northern Sea Route with the length of 4 thousand km in just 6,5 days.

The government was, of course, dissatisfied with the fact that NOVATEK buys foreign vessels. But this had its own reasons. First, orders were made in South Korea even before the construction of the shipyard Zvezda began. Secondly, Russia has never produced such tankers for the transportation of LNG. It was simply not necessary - until recently Russia was engaged in the supply of exclusively pipeline gas.

However, the private oil and gas company NOVATEK would like to "improve". On the eve of its head Leonid Mikhelson said that he was ready to order in Russia the construction of tankers for the transportation of LNG - but only if the corresponding capacities and competencies appear in Russia.

At the shipyard "Star" just want to organize the construction of gas carriers of the ice class. Perhaps, it will even be done in cooperation with South Korean rivals. At least a year ago, Vostokproject has agreed to establish a joint venture with the structure of the South Korean shipyard DSME. It was at this company that NOVATEK ordered ice-class tankers, and this is one of the few shipyards in the world that has competence in such vessels. Ice-class such gas carriers in general before this, no one built. They were created specifically for the Russian customer. This joint venture provides opportunities for Russian shipbuilders to adopt knowledge and technology on such vessels and learn how to build them.

"Russia has the competence to build icebreakers, which are much more complicated than tankers, so this is a matter of swinging,

- Andrievsky is sure.

Perhaps, Russia will receive the necessary competences from cooperation with another South Korean company - Hyundai Heavy Industries. With it, "Zvezda" and Rosnefteflot signed an agreement on the construction of five Aframax tankers operating on LNG, with deadweight of 114 thousand tons each literally at the end of September, before that, five more were ordered.

It is interesting that to sign an agreement and increase the order to 10 such ships was planned in early September, during the president's visit to Vladivostok for a grand event - the ceremony of laying four supply vessels for Rosneft. However, it was not possible - the contract was broken, the signing of the document was canceled at the last moment. Igor Sechin did not sign this agreement, as it turned out that Rosneft in this project was unexpectedly not the owner, but the ship freighter. The company itself was assured that there was no cancellation of the deal, but it was necessary to adjust its conditions. And indeed, by the end of September the agreement was signed. And the first large-capacity tanker of Russian production on the "Star" can appear already in 2021 year.

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