World’s Largest LNG Storage Barge Approaches Bodø En Route to Russian Arctic

Saam Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering
Saam FSU (СААМ ПХГ) (Hull 2512/IMO: 9915090) at DSME Okpo shipyard. (Source: HNN Industry Source)

Novatek’s long-awaited hub for liquefied natural gas is about to arrive in the Barents Sea. It is currently around 350 km to the southwest of Bodø. Meanwhile, new modules for Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 plant are being shipped from China via the Northern Sea Route. The company has also sent its first delivery of liquefied natural gas of the year to China along the route.  


Three years after inking a deal with South Korean shipyard DSME, the first of two floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage units is set to arrive in the Arctic this week. Russias largest producer of natural gas, Novatek’s massive transshipment hub, Saam FSU, has nearly completed its 30,000 kilometer voyage from South Korea that began in February

The vessel is now traveling up the Norwegian coast line passing in proximity to Bodø in the next 24 hours. It will serve as a transfer point for liquefied natural gas off the Ura Guba anchorage near Murmansk. With the hub Novatek aims to further accelerate and economize its sales of Arctic LNG to Europe.

saam fsu close to Bodø
Live position of Saam FSU as of 2023-06-18 15:00:00 UTC. (Source: AIS data)

LNG and new modules

Meanwhile, summer shipping activity on Russia’s Northern Sea Route (NSR) has begun to pick up. Along the NSR itself Novatek has sent its first shipment of the summer to China. The ice-capable Arc7 LNG carrier Fedor Litke, escorted by two nuclear icebreakers, exited the NSR yesterday.

In previous years lighter ice conditions at the beginning of summer did not necessitate escorts, but ice conditions remain challenging as forecasted by Russian scientist this spring

The LNG is bound for China, which is Novatek’s fourth-largest customer after France, Belgium, and Spain. Last year the country received 29 shipments of LNG via the NSR.

Fedor Litke
The route Fedor Litke took along the NSR. (Source: AIS data)

In order to further expand LNG production Novatek will open the first production line of its latest plant, Arctic LNG 2, this summer. Modules for the facility are constructed at a yard in China before being shipped to Belokamenka near Murmansk for final assembly. 

A new module left the Chinese port of Tianjin three weeks ago aboard the heavy lift carrier Pugnax and the vessel is awaiting icebreaker at the eastern terminus of the NSR.

Pugnax’s route traveling north from China passing through the Bering Strait. (Source: AIS data)

Sanctions have little impact 

Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 questions arose if construction yards in China would continue work on the modules. At the time Novatek stated that work on the first and second production line were in advanced stages, but the completion of the third stage was uncertain. With a new module, likely for the third production line, currently en route, it appears that Chinese yards did complete the work. 

At the onset of sanctions experts expressed doubts that Novatek would be able to secure specialized transport capacity to deliver its large modules from China to Russia. With a new module currently en route it appears Novatek was able to overcome this hurdle as it pushes ahead with its plans.

A few weeks ago it announced that it replaced western turbine technology with units from China.

Audax, Pugnax’s sister ship, in the Arctic in 2021. (Source: Red Box)

Pugnax’s operator, Red Box Energy Services, registered in Singapore with offices in the Netherlands, previously delivered modules in 2021 and 2022. The company did not reply to requests for comments if sanctions impacted its business and if it planned to transport additional modules for Novatek.

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