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Thermal oil heating systems underpin LNG carrier operations in Arctic

19 May 2020
by John Snyder

Netherlands-based Heatmaster BV has secured an order to provide secondary thermal oil heating systems for five Arc7 ice-class LNG carriers being built for Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project in Russia

The five specially designed ice-breaking LNG carriers will be constructed by South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) under a subcontract from Russia’s Zvezda Shipbuilding.

“Heatmaster is proud of being selected as the supplier for this project as there are strict requirements,” said Heatmaster global sales director Pieter Borg. “Among other requirements which were met, having availability of specialist service engineers and spare parts in key areas in Russia made Heatmaster a perfect candidate for this project. This is a milestone contract for Heatmaster as it is the first order it has secured from SHI,” said Mr Borg.

As these LNG carriers will operate on the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic circle where temperatures can reach -52 C, outside ventilation air for their enginerooms will need to be heated, explained Mr Borg. He said the thermal oil heating systems will increase the temperature of outside air from as low as -52 C to acceptable engineroom temperature. “This will require a great deal of heat capacity on board for engineroom ventilation, but thermal oil heating systems are the best choice for this as the thermal oil will not freeze. Having direct steam or water heating for this application will increase risk of damage by freezing the heating medium,” said Mr Borg.

The first LNG carrier is expected to be delivered in Q1 2023. Thereafter, deliveries will occur every few months.

SHI is the technology partner for Zvezda Shipbuilding, providing design support for the construction of the 170,000-m3 Arc7 ice class LNG carriers. The largest independent natural gas producer in Russia, Novatek reserved shipbuilding slots for a series of gas carriers at Zvezda’s shipbuilding complex for the Arctic LNG -2 project in 2018.

In April 2019, Zvezda Shipbuilding and Russian vessel owner Sovcomflot concluded a construction contract for the pilot gas carrier for Arctic LNG-2 project. With a power plant of 45 MW, each vessel will be capable of breaking ice up to 2.1 m in thickness. To reach Asia, the LNGCs would transport their cargoes from Arctic LNG-2 in about 12 days to a transhipment complex in Kamchatka, where the cargoes would then be shipped to Japan or China in about six days.

Fifteen Arc7 class LNG carriers have been deployed for Novatek’s Yamal LNG, the largest LNG project in Russia, with about a 5% share of the total global LNG market. Sovcomflot owns the first vessel in that series, Christophe de Margerie.

The technical specifications for the new series of ice-class LNG carriers will differ from the LNG carriers of the Christophe de Margerie series. Notably, the anticipated vessel design foresees a changed hull shape and better icebreaking capabilities, to enable efficient commercial shipments from the Gulf of Ob eastwards along the Northern Sea Route all year-round.

In 2019, Novatek and Sovcomflot formed a joint venture, Smart LNG, LLC to own, operate and arrange ship financing.

With a 60% interest, Novatek is joined by French energy giant Total (10%), China’s CNPC (10%) and CNOOC (10%), and Japan’s Mitsui & Co and JOGMEC (10%) in the development of Arctic LNG-2. With a capex of US$21.3Bn, Arctic LNG-2 will have a capacity of 19.8 mta. Arctic LNG-2’s Train 1 and Novatek’s 5-mta Obskiy LNG are expected to begin commercial operations in 2023. Arctic LNG-2’s Train 2 will be commissioned in 2024, followed by Train 3 in 2026.