A gas derrick is pictured at the village of Sabetta on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic circle. Photo: AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev

The Independent Barents Observer reports that the first ever shipload of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia’s Arctic has reached India via the Northern Sea Route.

More shipments from Russia’s huge LNG plant in Yamal are expected to follow. “One of our main priorities, which is laid down in the company’s strategy until year 2030, is the geographic expansion of deliveries and enhanced presence in key Asian markets,” Lev Feodosev, Deputy Chairman of Novatek’s Management Board, was quoted as saying. “The Asian market is considered of major importance for the company’s LNG project in Yamal.” Novatek, Russia’s largest independent gas producer, oversees production at Yamal.

Since Novatek launched production at its Yamal LNG plant, out-shipments of more than one million tons of LNG have reportedly been made. Four big LNG carriers are now said to shuttle from the project terminal of Sabetta. Another 11 vessels of this type are said to be under construction.

All of the specialized vessels have strong icebreaking capacities and are able to ship along the Northern Sea Route during major parts of the year. The Northern Sea Route runs along the Russian Arctic coast from the Kara Sea, along Siberia, to the Bering Strait.

The Barents Observer says a total of US$27 billion has been invested in the Yamal project, of which US$13 billion came from shareholders, US$4 billion from Russian banks and US$12 billion from Chinese banks. It is operated by Novatek in cooperation with partners Total (20%), China’s CNPC (20%) and China’s Silk Road Fund (9.9%).