On 18 October, in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Konstantin G. Palnikov, Director General of Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, participated in a protocol event dedicated to the successful project implementation of construction and operation commencement of a large-capacity Aframax tanker "Gagarin Prospect" (shipowner − SCF Group) using LNG as the primary fuel. This pioneered the expansion of LNG fuel into the global shipping industry, for large-capacity ships not tied to fixed routes or set timetables.
On 2 October, specialized LNG bunkering ship Cardissa, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell, successfully performed its first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering to take place at the port of Rotterdam. On 15 October, in the port of Primorsk "Gagarin Prospect" carried out the first loading taking on board 104,815 tons of crude oil. Now, the tanker is going to the port of delivery.
"Gagarin Prospect" has been specially designed for operation using LNG fuel, and it is the world's first LNG-powered Aframax tanker of such design. Due to the use of environmentally friendly gas engine fuel, the reduction of harmful substances emissions into the atmosphere amount to 100 % − for sulfur oxides, 100 % − for soot, 76 % − for nitrogen oxides and 27 % − for carbon dioxide. The tanker has been constructed to the RS class for Sovkomflot. The RS class notation: КМ IB IA (for Hull) AUT1-ICS OMBO LI VCS CCO ECO-S BWM(T) SPM GFS TMS IWS DE-Tier III Oil Tanker (ESP) CSR.
Expansion of the practice of using gas fuel on ships as an alternative to liquid petroleum is caused by both market processes and international environmental regulations governing navigation, in particular, the MARPOL requirements regarding control of NOx and SOx emissions into the atmosphere.
"The use of LNG as fuel for large-capacity tankers has become a real technological breakthrough. When constructing a state-of-the-art tanker, the most recent advances in science and technology were used. A number of non-standard engineering solutions have been specially developed for this series of ships. The project brought together the leading world companies of designers, manufacturers of equipment and marine engineering, shipowners and classification societies. The work performed and the successful commencement of "Gagarin Prospect" tanker operation set new standards for the environmental safety of commercial shipping", noted Konstantin G. Palnikov.
A total of 11 ships of project 114K DWT Crude Oil Tanker will be built to the RS class for different customers at shipbuilding complex "Zvezda" (town of Bolshoy Kamen) and Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries shipyard (Mokpo, Republic of Korea).