Sovcomflot and NOVATEK sign ‘SMART’ joint venture agreement

Arctic Shipping, Logistics, Mergers and Acquisitions — By on September 4, 2019 at 11:23 AM

Sergey Frank

Sovcomflot and NOVATEK sign ‘SMART’ joint venture agreement 

4 September 2019, Vladivostok: Today, during the 5th Eastern Economic Forum, PAO Sovcomflot and PAO NOVATEK concluded an agreement to establish a joint venture SMART LLC.

The agreement was signed by Sergey Frank, President and CEO of Sovcomflot, and Leonid Mikhelson, Chairman of the Management Board of NOVATEK.

The main purpose of the joint venture is to ensure safe year-round maritime LNG logistics from the Arctic LNG-2 and other current and prospective projects of Novatek. The newly established company will work with the relevant shipyard to provide the technical designs for future vessels, place shipbuilding orders and supervise the technical aspects of their construction. The JV will function as the ship-owner and fleet operator. The company will also account for the financing requirements of the projects.

17 new generation Arc7 LNG-carriers are planned to be built at the Zvezda shipbuilding complex, in cooperation with technology partners of the Russian shipyard. The resulting vessels are expected to be delivered from 2023 – to 2026.

The vessels’ technical specifications will differ from the LNG carriers of the Christophe de Margerie series. Notably, the anticipated vessel design foresees a changed hull shape and better icebreaking capabilities, to enable efficient commercial shipments from the Gulf of Ob eastwards along the Northern Sea Route all year-round.

The vessels will be operated under the Russian Federation flag.

It is anticipated that the financing for the vessels’ construction will be organised with the assistance of VEB.RF, on the basis of the project structure taking into account best Russian and international practices. In 2010, Vneshekonombank successfully financed the construction of the two Arctic shuttle tankers of the Mikhail Ulyanov series at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. The ships are now in year-round operation serving the Arctic Prirazlomnoye project.

The newly formed SMART LLC will be registered in Vladivostok.

The agreement stipulates that the parties shall take measures to form the Joint Venture by 31 December 2019.

Sergey Frank, President and CEO of Sovcomflot, stated:

“Establishing a JV with NOVATEK is the optimal solution, considering the high capital intensity of the projects, as well as its long-term nature and the financial resources required. It also recognises the benefits of using the latest technologies and our experience of fleet management in severe ice and climatic conditions. The company is potentially open for other professional investors and participants that may be considering the development of LNG-projects in the Arctic.

“For Arctic and subarctic sea basin projects, Sovcomflot’s vessels have transported over 250 million tonnes of crude oil and over 50 million cubic meters of LNG. We are pleased to bring this unique experience and expertise accumulated by the company during years of successful and safe operation of our technically unique fleet of specialised vessels.

“The implementation of the project envisages the great importance of training for seafarers of the vessels, and it is symbolic that the agreement was signed in the building of the legendary Maritime State University named after Admiral G. I. Nevelskoy, one of Russia’s oldest universities and a pioneer in the formation of the traditions of Arctic navigation.

“For more than a hundred years, the university has been educating generations of highly qualified marine specialists to work in the Eastern sector of the Arctic and the Northern water area of the Pacific Ocean.”


  • The successful cooperation between Sovcomflot and NOVATEK started in 2010 with the organisation of experimental high-latitude voyages along the Northern Sea Route, which helped to justify the technical and economic feasibility of shipping hydrocarbons on large-tonnage vessels along the Northern Sea Route.
  • Sovcomflot was directly involved in the development of the transport component of the successfully implemented Yamal LNG project, and today it operates the world’s first Arctic LNG-carrier, Christophe de Margerie.
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