A unit of the Dubai-headquartered GAC Group - GAC Russia - has won a contract to manage Novatek-operated Yamal LNG’s fleet of icebreaker tankers at Sabetta port for the next three years. Yamal LNG is one of the world’s largest and most complex LNG projects. Under the agreement, GAC Russia will handle an estimated 400 port calls every year; 200 in Sabetta and an additional 200 globally. News of the appointment comes after GAC’s successful in-port support since 2015 and the management of last spring’s ice trials for the “Christophe De Margerie”, a new breed of tanker able to transport LNG unaided year-round. Sabetta presents a challenge to conventional LNG transportation, as the sea is frozen for up to nine months of the year and temperatures can drop as low as -50°C. The 300m “Christophe De Margerie” has a capacity of 172,600m³ capacity and is equipped to operate without the assistance of ice breakers – even in extreme conditions when the ice is more than 2 metres thick - to ensure that Yamal LNG continues exports to European and Asian destinations. Over the coming two years, a fleet of 15 LNG ice-breakers will gradually be commissioned. GAC Russia will apply its expertise to every aspect of in-port activities at Sabetta, from permits to operate in Russian waters and sourcing boarding engineers and scientists for the trials, to route coordination with the Russian Coast Guard Service and advice on Arctic navigation. GAC Russia’s General Manager, Tatyana Shorokhova, says: “Our work with Yamal LNG is testament to the array of support GAC can provide in addition to standard services such as Customs formalities, crew transfers, provision of bunker fuels and delivery of ship spares, machine parts and supplies. “We are privileged to be working so extensively with Yamal LNG on this historic project. Coupled with our ongoing expansion into the Russian Far East, this makes GAC Russia the only ship agent with a presence throughout the interconnected Arctic region and the Far East. With offices in Nakhodka and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, we cover 22 maritime ports in the region.” GAC Russia has been on site since the start of the Yamal LNG project, when there was no access by land or sea. Construction began on a regional transportation hub, the port of Sabetta and an international airport in 2011. Yamal LNG is owned and operated by a partnership comprised of Novatek (50.1%), Total 20%), CNPC (20%) and the Silk Road Fund (9.9%). It aims to tap natural gas reserves totalling more than 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). To date, more than 200 wells have been drilled and three liquefaction trains built, each with a capacity of 5.5 million metric tons. Each year, nearly 16.5 million metric tons of LNG will transit through the port of Sabetta, destined for customers in Europe and Asia under contracts ranging from 15 to 20 years.