The Saam FSU is towed through the Norwegian Sea towards its home base in Russian Arctic bay Ura Guba. Screenshot from Marine Traffic

Novatek's new 400 meter long LNG storage vessel is entering Arctic waters

The floating unit will be based in Ura Guba near Murmansk and serve as reloading hub for Russia's export of liquified natural gas. After four months of towing from the Korean shipyard, the Saam FSU this week reached the Norwegian Sea.
June 19, 2023


The floating storage unit that is built by the Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering (DSME) this week sailed into the Norwegian Sea en route to its destination in Ura Guba, the Russian fjord located to the west of Murmansk City.

The unit is 400 meter long and 60 meter wide, and is expected to reach Russian waters and the Ura Bay in the course of next week.

The Saam FSU set out from South Korea on the 22nd of February. For most of the voyage around Africa, the vessel has been accompanied by tugs and support ships Vengery and Venie. At the moment, three more ships take part in the escort of the unit.

The Saam FSU is built for Russian natural gas company Novatek and will significantly facilitate the company’s export of LNG. Ice-class tankers will shuttle from the company’s production plants in the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas and reload the LNG to the FSU, whereupon conventional carriers will pick up the natural gas and bring it to buyers across the globe.

The Saam FSU will be based in Ura Guba, near the Russian Navy town of Vidyaevo

Until now, the ice-class carriers have mostly shipped the LNG all the way to markets themselves.

The new logistical scheme will also enable Novatek to apply its existing fleet of 15 ice-class tankers for both the Yamal LNG and the Arctic LNG 2. The latter project is due to launch production in early 2024 and includes the construction of a separate fleet of carriers.

However, the construction of the Arctic LNG 2 fleet is significantly delayed. The Zvezda shipyard was originally to deliver the first carrier in March 2023, and the subsequent ships in September, October, November and December that same year. But the yard that is located near Vladivostok in the Russian far east is at least one year behind schedule.


The first tanker will not delivered until 2024 at earliest. Similar delays will apply to another four vessels.


Russian Arctic LNG carrier prepares for ship-to-ship reloading near the Kildin island. Photo: Rosmorport


The Zvezda is owned by oil company Rosneft and was granted a contract to build a total of 15 Arc7 carriers for the Arctic LNG 2. It launched construction of the first of the 300 meter long ships in June 2021.

Zvezda has no previous experience in building this kind of ships. Following the introduction of international sanctions, the yard today also has major problems with obtaining needed technology.  

Another six carriers were originally to be built by the South Korean DSME. But in May 2022, the Koreans pulled out of the deal with Novatek following Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine.

A FSU similar to the Saam is under construction and is later this year to be deployed in the far eastern peninsula of Kamchatka.

According to Mikhelson, the two reloading facilities will promote price stabilisation in the market.

“We hope that the presence of permanent volumes of LNG at these sites will lead to price stabilisation in the market: we hope that both futures and speculative hedging in the LNG market will stabilise,” he told news agency Finmarket.

The Ura Bay is today first of all known for its nuclear submarine base. The fjord has deep waters and does not freeze in wintertime.



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