The Alexander Sannikov, a new cutting-edge icebreaker, commissioned by Gazprom Neft was built to support tankers going from Novoportovskoye field along the North Sea route. The new vessel will help ensure year-round supplies of Arctic oil to the global markets.
Gazprom Neft is currently the only oil company operating on the Russian Arctic Shelf. The Alexander Sannikov is the company’s first icebreaker to be built under the "Arctic Time" programme. Six tankers have already been launched and operate under this programme, currently deployed in the transportation of the Novy Port oil.
The new vessel will commence its regular support journeys in August. Furthermore, Gazprom Neft continues to invest in developing infrastructure for its Arctic assets in order to ensure optimum production efficiency for all types of hydrocarbons. As a result, the Company is committed to establishing its own tanker and icebreaker fleet.
Alexander Dyukov, CEO of Gazprom Neft , commented: "Our estimates indicate that demand for the North Sea route transportation will increase by one third by 2030. Establishing our own Arctic fleet will enable us to maintain our leadership in the Russian Arctic in the long term. Following the launch of the Alexander Sannikov, the construction of the Andrey Vilkitsky, our second high-tech icebreaker is near completion."
The Alexander Sannikov will be equipped with the latest dynamic positioning and integrated control systems. The vessel can operate independently for 30 days in extreme temperatures, with temperatures as low as ?50 degrees. On-board computers will ensure the uninterrupted regulation of essential services and living conditions, activate oscillators, synchronise equipment, manage emergency response, and control the temperature as well as all of the technological processes on deck. Digitalised controls have enhanced the efficiency of crew operations — fulfilling similar functions on other icebreakers requires twice as many team members.
In open water, the Alexander Sannikov accelerates to 16 knots (30 km/h) and can complete a full 360-degree turn within one minute. With a combined propulsion power of 22MW under standard operation, the vessel has a record ice-breaking capability, comparable to nuclear icebreakers. This advantage is made possible by the unique shape of the hull as well as three “Azipod” azimuth thrusters, which can rotate360 degrees and are located in the stern and bow. Conventional icebreakers crash into the ice, breaking it down through their sheer weight. The Alexander Sannikov uses external screws and the hull to cut through the ice and effectively “mill” it, allowing the vessel a greater degree of manoeuvrability.
With its own fire station, hospital, helicopter pad, emergency lifeboats, powerful winch and crane with a lifting capacity of 26 tonnes , the Alexander Sannikov’s functionality exceeds that of most icebreakers currently in operation. In addition to supporting tankers, it can independently transport freight, act as a towing vessel, and be involved in rescue operations.