Keppel Builds 2 Icebreakers for Arctic Sea

Keppel Singmarine Pte Ltd (Keppel Singmarine) has completed Asia’s first two icebreakers, built for one of the harshest marine frontiers on Earth, the Arctic sea, for valued client, Lukoil.

Said Charles Foo, Chairman of Keppel Singmarine, "This is the first time that icebreakers meant for the Arctic region are built in the tropics. It also marks Keppel Singmarine's entry into the flourishing oil and gas market in the Arctic region."

The second vessel was named Varandey by Lyudmila Velikova, wife of Victor Velikov, Deputy General-Director of Lukoil at a Russian-themed ceremony at Marina at Keppel Bay today. The first icebreaking vessel, Toboy, was delivered to Lukoil in August this year.

Varandey will join Toboy in the Barents Sea of Russia where they will help forge passages through the ice for oil tankers plying the Varandey Terminal.

Both Varandey and Toboy are designed to work in the harshest environments, cutting through solid ice over 1.7m thick, equivalent to the height of a grown man, and operating in extreme temperatures as low as -45 degrees C.

According to the latest United States Geological Survey, it is estimated that the Arctic may hold as much as 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This is equivalent to as much as 13% and 30% of the world’s total undiscovered oil and natural gas respectively.

Foo said, “The increasing oil and gas exploration and production activities in the Arctic present tremendous opportunities for specialized and robust vessels such as the icebreaking vessels.

"Seizing this opportunity and in line with Keppel Offshore & Marine's group strategy of 'Near Market, Near Customer,' Keppel Singmarine embarked on a study of the offshore activities in the Arctic in order to build up our shipbuilding capabilities in ice technology."

Its strategy paid off when Keppel Singmarine was awarded the contract from Lukoil in 2006 to construct Asia's first two icebreakers.

Foo added, "This was a milestone for Keppel especially since we had secured the contract amidst strong competition from European yards, which have a long tradition in and strong infrastructure of related arctic technology."

Icebreaking vessels have to work in extreme conditions, complying with strict operating standards to ensure performance and safety. Both Varandey and Toboy are built in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, and are customised in accordance with the owner's stringent requirements and superior technical specifications.

Said Victor Velikov, Deputy General-Director of Lukoil, "The enthusiasm and competence displayed by Keppel Singmarine in building the two icebreakers are remarkable. It met our expectations with regards to technical solutions and workmanship. We look forward to strengthening our ties with Keppel Singmarine in the near future."