Hanwha uses “Russian magic trick” to sell LNG tankers to Dubai | Polarjournal
The ship “Pyotr Kapitsa” is currently at the Hanwha shipyard on Geoje Island. (Photo: Wladimir Lappino)

The plant on the Gydan Peninsula is Novatek’s second major project and is considered crucial to Russia’s goal of more than tripling its LNG production to 100 million tons by the end of the decade. To achieve these goals, Novatek needs ice-going LNG tankers. Six such newly built tankers, destined for Russian LNG projects but stranded due to US sanctions, have increasingly come under international scrutiny.

The Russian natural gas company Novatek is now taking an important step forward and should soon start supplying LNG from the Arctic LNG 2 project, despite the US sanctions.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. The Arc7 LNG tanker Pyotr Kapitsa, which was built by the South Korean shipyard Hanwha Ocean, is changing hands. Records from the ship register indicate that the vessel was transferred to a company from the United Arab Emirates on February 1, 2024. In this way, Hanwha Ocean avoids the risk of violating US sanctions.

Hanwha Ocean constructs specialized icebreaking LNG carriers originally intended for the Russian Arctic LNG 2 project. (Photo: Hanwha Ocean)

The Arc7 LNG carriers are special icebreaking vessels that were supposed to be deployed in the Russian Arctic. They were being built to serve some of the country’s huge LNG projects still under development, including Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 project.

LNG tanker vessel Pyotr Kapitsa was originally part of an order of three ships by the Russian company Sovcomflot. However, the contract was terminated in 2022 due to sanctions-related payment problems. Despite this, Hanwha Ocean completed the construction of all three vessels and was reportedly looking for a buyer. The two other LNG freighters Lev Landau and Zhores Alferov are not for sale and supposed to remain with Hanwha.

“Novatek will certainly do everything in its power to obtain these tankers for transportation, which can only be used for their Arctic LNG-2, as they are too expensive to operate in open waters, even in Sakhalin,” says Hervé Baudu, Arctic shipping expert and professor for maritime training at the French Maritime Academy (ENSM) in an interview with press. In the article, he called the registration of the Pyotr Kapitsa in the UAE a “Russian magic trick”.

Hervé Baudu on the purchase of the ship indirectly via a company in the UAE: “The world of shipping is like that. Now all that remains is to find a qualified crew”. (Photo: Screen Shot Vimeo)

Dubai-based New Transshipment FZE is listed as the new owner of the LNG carrier. According to online records, the company acts as a holding company and investment vehicle for projects, partnerships and joint ventures in marine transportation, storage and logistics, including the development of marine transportation solutions for LNG, as well as handling and storage services for LNG.

In the past, Novatek has always been able to rely on companies in the UAE to bypass sanctions. In 2023, the company entered into a partnership with Green Energy Solutions LLC from Abu Dhabi to procure sanctioned Western technology. However, this deal went awry as the company was blocked by the US in September 2023.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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