LUKoil Loads Ice-Class Tanker in Arctic

LUKoil, the country's second-largest oil producer, has loaded the first ice-class tanker at its new oil export terminal in the Arctic port of Varandei, the company said Monday.

The 70,000-ton Vasily Dinkov is bound for the Canadian port Come by Chance, LUKoil said in a statement.

The new Varandei terminal — where ice-class vessels are required all year round except July and August — has capacity to export 12 million tons per year (240,000 barrels per day) of crude from the Timan-Pechora area.

LUKoil is developing fields in the region in conjunction with its 20 percent shareholder, U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips. It has ordered four specialized ice-class tankers to operate from Varandei.

The company has been exporting crude from Varandei via a smaller terminal owned by Murmansk Shipping. In 2007, this terminal shipped 576,000 tons, up from 501,000 tons in 2006.

The new terminal at Varandei is expected to export 2 million to 3 million tons of crude annually.