Gazprom Neft strengthens its own Arctic fleet with a second icebreaker, the Andrey Vilkitsky

12/24/2018
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Andrey Vilkitsky icebreaker. Photo: Gazprom Neft.

MOSCOW -- The Andrey Vilkitsky icebreaker, built as part of Gazprom Neft’s “Time of the Arctic” program, has been launched in St. Petersburg — the Alexander Sannikov icebreaker and six oil tankers having already been brought into operation.

These cutting-edge icebreakers have been built to order for Gazprom Neft to operate around the Novoportovskoye field’s Arctic terminal in the Gulf of Ob (part of the Kara Sea), ensuring year-round supplies of Novy Port oil to the global market.** They are designed to perform operational activities including icebreaking tanker support, mooring and loading operations, vessel towing, fire fighting, and oil-spill response and lifesaving operations.

The icebreaker is named in honor of the famous Russian hydrographer, surveyor and polar explorer Andrey Vilkitsky. The vessel was designed and built at the Vyborg Shipyard to operate in freshwater systems in the Arctic, which are covered by up to two to 2.5 m of ice for 200 days of the year: a task made more complicated by strong gales and the shallow waters of the Gulf of Ob. Icebreaking vessels such as the Alexander Sannikov and the Andrey Vilkitsky are vital in ensuring uninterrupted oil supplies from the Polar Circle, carving water channels through which tankers can make their way, safely and unhindered, to the Arctic Gates terminal.

The Andrey Vilkitsky’s unique hull allows it to cut through and break up the ice rather than simply crushing it like other nuclear icebreakers, while its shallow draught and maneuverability ensure the efficiency of the vessel. The Andrey Vilkitsky can accelerate up to 16 knots (30 km per hour) in open waters, can complete a full turn within a minute and, with propulsion power of 22 MW, demonstrates icebreaking capacity comparable with nuclear icebreakers of far greater power — advantages made possible by the construction of its hull and three Azipod azimuth thrusters, capable of being rotated 360 degrees, located in the stern and bow.

The icebreaker was launched in 2017, before undergoing technical fitting-out and completion. Having successfully passed mooring and running tests, as well as ice trials, it is now ready to be dispatched to the Arctic Gates terminal, its new base in the Gulf of Ob.

Alexander Dyukov, chairman of the Gazprom Neft Management Board, commented: “This is now the second high-tech icebreaker to be involved in ensuring uninterrupted oil shipments from the Novoportovskoye field, and will help improve efficiency in our work in the waters of the Gulf of Ob. Novy Port is one of the company’s fastest-developing assets. Production volumes at this field increased by more than 40% year-on-year. Logistics are playing the vital role here, making it possible to continue shipping and transporting oil through the Kara Sea, regardless of weather conditions. So building these icebreakers was an essential precondition to the further effective development of Novy Port.”

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