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Christophe de Margerie completes her first loading at Sabetta

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LNG Industry,

On 8 December 2017, the icebreaking LNG carrier Christophe de Margerie completed her first loading at the Port of Sabetta, on the Yamal Peninsular, with her first cargo of LNG produced at the Yamal LNG plant.

The ceremony was attended by: the Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with Sergey Belousov, Aide to the President; Sergey Donskoy, Russia’s Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection; Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade; Alexander Novak, Russia’s Minister of Energy; Maxim Oreshkin, Russia’s Minister of Economic Development; Anton Siluanov, Russia’s Minister of Finance; Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s Minister of Transport; Dmitry Kobylkin, Governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District; Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman & CEO of Novatek, Sergey Frank, President & CEO of Sovcomflot, and representatives from Total, CNPC, and Silk Road Fund.

Christophe de Margerie is the first in a series of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers ordered for the Yamal LNG project, to transport LNG year-round in the challenging ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob. Her appearance signalled the market debut for Yamalmax ships, a new class of vessel. The design of Christophe de Margerie has already been duly appreciated by oil and gas industry experts: On 7 December 2017, the vessel won the award for Engineering Project of the Year at the 2017 S&P Global Platts Global Energy Awards.

The vessel is capable of sailing independently through ice of up to 2.1 m thick. She has been assigned an ice class Arc7, the highest ice class amongst existing merchant vessels. The power of Christophe de Margerie's propulsion system is 45 MW, a capacity comparable to that of a modern nuclear icebreaker. The propulsion system includes three Azipod units which provide a high ice-breaking capability and manoeuvrability. Christophe de Margerie became the world’s first merchant vessel with a high ice class to have three Azipod units installed.

Christophe de Margerie can sail unassisted along the Northern Sea Route westward from Yamal all year-round, and eastward for six months of the year (from July to December) to the ports of Asian-Pacific Region (APAC) countries. Previously, the summer navigation window in the eastern area of the Northern Sea Route was limited to only four months with icebreaker support.

The all-Russian crew numbers 29, including Sergey Zybko, the Master of the vessel, and 12 other officers. Each officer has significant Arctic shipping experience (Sovcomflot has been training its seafarers to operate LNG carriers in challenging ice conditions since 2008) and has undergone extensive additional training at Sovcomflot’s own training centre in St. Petersburg.

The LNG carrier was named after Christophe de Margerie, the former CEO of Total, who had played a key role in developing investment decisions and a technological basis for the Yamal LNG project. He had also made a major contribution to the development of Russo-French economic relations in general.

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