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ESL's LNG-fuelled freighter to cross Northern Sea Route in October

Follows recent NGO declarations urging shippers to use cleaner fuel in the Arctic.

ESL Shipping's LNG-fuelled dry cargo vessel, Viikki, is due to the travel to the Baltic Sea via the Northern Sea Route around the end of October 2018. Image credit: ESL Shipping

Updated on 10 Sep 2018 11:35 GMT

ESL Shipping says its newly delivered LNG-fuelled dry cargo vessel, Viiki, will be making its way to the Baltic Sea region via the Northern Sea Route next month.

The development follows recent declarations by Clean Arctic Alliance - a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) committed to banning the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) as a marine fuel in the Arctic - which has called on shippers Cosco, Fednav and Maersk to not use HFO in the Arctic and to clarify what fuel they use when crossing the Northern Sea Route.

The LNG-powered Viiki was delivered to ESL Shipping at Jinling shipyard in Nanjing, China, on September 4.

Like its sister ship, Haaga, Viikki will first head from the Chinese shipyard to Japan, from where it will travel fully laden to the Baltic Sea region.

The plan is for both vessels to travel to the Baltic Sea via the Northern Sea Route around the end of October. The passage, which can only be used for roughly two months in early autumn when it is free of ice, shortens the travel time by nearly three weeks compared to the route via the Panama Canal and is expected to reduce emissions by more than 40 percent, according to Aspo-owned ESL.

"Viikki and Haaga significantly reduce emissions from our customers' transportation chains, and this new vessel category increases the flexibility of deliveries. We are proud that this innovative and energy-efficient vessel sails under the Finnish flag," commented Mikki Koskinen, Managing Director of ESL Shipping.

"These new, next-generation vessels are a good example of how Aspo as a responsible owner is aiming to help mitigate climate change. Their passage via the Northern Sea Route is a concrete indication of the impact of climate change - but also of new business opportunities. Only a handful of merchant vessels travelling the world's seas are ice-strengthened. All 50 ESL Shipping vessels are heavily ice-strengthened. What is more, we have excellent special expertise in operating in the arctic," remarked Aki Ojanen, CEO of Aspo Plc and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ESL Shipping.

The ESL newbuilds form part of the Bothnia Bulk project, which is partly funded by the EU. Its goal is to modernize the sea route between Lulea (Sweden), Oxelosund (Sweden) and Raahe (Finland) - and for the three ports to be more eco-friendly.

In addition, port environmental emissions are set to decrease with the improved availability of shoreside electricity.

As Bunker Index reported last year, bunker supplier Skangas already has an agreement in place to supply both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied biogas (LBG) to the Viikki and Haaga.

The Viikki is due to be the first vessel to serve at the new Manga LNG terminal in Tornio - a facility that is partly owned by Skangas.

Related Links:

Baltic bunker buyers hail LNG as a marine fuel
Second large LNG-powered bulker launched for ESL Shipping
Skangas secures deal to supply ESL ships with LNG and LBG
NGOs challenge Maersk to 'come clean' on Arctic fuel use
Record Northern Sea Route volume prompts fresh call for HFO ban
Cosco urged to clarify what fuel it used in the Arctic

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