ST. PETERSBURG The state-run Admiralty Shipyards this week delivered a third icebreaker oil tanker for LUKoil, as the oil giant continues its drive to open a winter northern sea shipping route from Russia.
The 20,000-ton vessel, the Kaliningrad, is the third the shipyard has built for LUKoil, Russia's largest oil company, in the past 11 months. Each vessel, stretching 155 meters and valued at between $20 million and $30 million, is capable of breaking through the half-meter thick ice that covers the Barents Sea for the best part of a year.
Under the terms of a 1997 contract between Admiralty Shipyards and the LUKoil Arctic Tanker company, the shipyard is commissioned to build two more vessels by mid-2001. The first, the Astrakhan, was delivered in March 2000, and the second, the Magas, was launched July 18.
Vladimir Alexandrov, director of the Admiralty Shipyard, said LUKoil officials were satisfied with the three vessels and that the oil company "would probably order another 20,000-ton tanker, plus several 60,000-ton ships."
Prior to signing a contract with the St. Petersburg shipbuilders, LUKoil had received five 20,000-ton tankers from the German shipbuilding company, MTW Schiffwerft. LUKoil spokesman Yury Romanov would not reveal the exact price of the German tankers, but said they "are very good quality, although they cost several million dollars more [than those built at Admiralty]."
The 10 arctic tankers and a new oil terminal are vital parts of LUKoil's Northern Gate project a program through which the company is hoping to ship crude from the its Kolsky Peninsula oil deposit via Murmansk to the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the major European oil trading center.
Company officials said several tankers would start shipping oil from LUKoil's Varandei oil field to the Dutch port later this year. LUKoil has already done a test run of its $10 million oil terminal at the Varandei Harbor. LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov said Tuesday that it had begun loading its first tanker of crude at the terminal. "The tanker Magas was loading today at Verandei. The port's first phase is already operational and we are continuing construction."
The new terminal has the capacity to receive and reload 15 million tons of oil per year, officials said.
LUKoil's board of directors also said in a statement that the board had approved plans through 2005 and beyond to develop oil and gas reserves in the Timan-Pechora province in the Komi Republic and Nenets autonomous region, all in northern European Russia.
According to LUKoil data, the company and its subsidiaries control about 400 million tons of oil reserves in the Timan-Pechora province, the total reserves of which are estimated at some 3 billion to 7 billion tons.
Last year, LUKoil and subsidiaries extracted 75 million tons of oil some 25 percent of Russia's total oil output.