Tanker traffic in Arctic ice. Illustration photo by Novatek

A Chinese-built Arctic tanker tests spring ice along remote Russian coast

Ice lies thick on the water as the world’s first icebreaking condensate tanker sails into a shallow bay by peninsula Taymyr.
May 07, 2019


The «Boris Sokolov» is one of the best ice-protected tankers in the world and has already proved its capabilities. In January this year, the ship made it from the Guangzhou Shipyard in China, through the Northern Sea Route and all the way to Murmansk.

It was the darkest and coldest part of the year and the ship had to break through up to two meters thick ice.

Now, the ship is located in coastal waters along the Taymyr Peninsula. Data from MarineTraffic show that the tanker had sailed from Sabetta in Yamal and that it on Monday was lying idle in a bay near the Island of Kolosomykh. According to the Northern Sea Route Administration the ship is due to pass Cape Zhelaniya and exit the Northern Sea Route on 13th May.

The «Boris Sokolov» along coast of Taymyr. Map by MarineTraffic


It on Tuesday moved out of the Taymyr bay with a west-bound course.

The ship is reported to undergo ice-testing in the area.


Ice remains thick along major parts of the Northern Sea Route. Along the westerns shores of the Taymyr, there is still solid fast ice belt. Data from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute show that the whole Kara Sea and Laptev Sea the last week of April was covered by one-year old ice up to two meters thick. Along the coast, in the fast ice belt, the solidity and thickness of the ice is even bigger.

The «Boris Sokolov» is the world’s first Arctic condensate tanker of its kind. It has a deadweight of 43,300 tons and was handed over to its owner, Greek company Dynacom Tankers Management, on 4th December 2019.

It is built by the Guangzhou Shipyard in south China. The project has proved the Chinese yard’s capability to build Arctic vessels. That experience will be actively applied as China now increasingly looks towards Arctic waters. Several more Arctic vessels are under construction in China, including icebreakers.

The 214 meter long «Boris Sokolov» early this year spent about 6-weeks on its voyage from Nansha, China, to Northwest Russian port of Murmansk. Parts of the voyage was made together with new LNG carrier «Boris Davydov». Both have ice class Arc and are designed by Finnish ship design company Aker Arctic.

According to Aker Arctic, the «Boris Sokolov» will be used primarily to transport gas condensate from Sabetta LNG terminal to customers in Europe and Asia. It can also be applied as a regular oil tanker.



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