Sovcomflot (SCF Group) chief executive Sergey Frank made a relatively rare public appearance outside Russia on Monday to accept a prestigious new ship award at Nor-Shipping in Oslo.

Frank was on hand to accept the Next Generation Ship Award for the Russian tanker company’s ground-breaking LNG-fuelled aframax tanker Gagarin Prospect at the Nor-Shipping opening ceremony in the presence of Norway’s King Harald V.

The 114,000-dwt ice class vessel was the first LNG dual-fuelled tanker.

It was delivered last year by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries and named in honour of the first Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

“It is a really big honour to receive this trophy,” Frank told invited guests at Oslo City Hall including many senior figures in Norwegian shipping.

“The project took us five years to make as they should always comply with our investment criteria. Our vision was quite clear.”

Frank said he wanted to share the honour with Sovcomflot’s industry partners – charterer Shell, shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries, and classification society DNV GL.

“Without the support of our partners this project would have never happened,” he added.

“And, of course, I share this award with our captain and crew to whom we owe so much.”

The other three contenders for the award were the Yara Birkeland, AET’s aframax shuttle tanker project, and Teekay’s own shuttle tanker project.

Frank said shipping was on the cusp of a major step.

“Our great industry made the big jump from wind and sail to coal, and then it took some time to move from coal to oil.

"And now we should make the move from oil to less polluting fuel, and gas is a much better fuel.

“I am so happy that six of our aframaxes are now trading in the Baltic, and every voyage produces less CO2 emissions, lower NOX and no particulates.”

Sovcomflot senior executive vice-president Evgeniy Ambrosov told TradeWinds last year the company has received huge interest from charterers.

“Everybody wants to raise the green flag over their ships and bring their oil to different European locations, especially those in environmentally controlled areas, to enjoy the discount which different ports offer.”

After recently delivering its sixth dual-fuelled aframax tanker to the vessel’s long-term charterer, Shell, Sovcomflot is moving on to the next phase of its Green Funnel newbuilding plan.

Sovcomflot has five further LNG-fuelled tankers on order.

The company is building two more Green Funnel design aframax tankers for charter to Russia’s Rosneft.

In addition, Sovcomflot is constructing three dual-fuel 51,000-dwt MR tankers with ice-class 1B. All three ships are backed by charters with Russian energy company Novatek.

All five vessels are being constructed at the Zvezda Shipbuilding complex in Russia.

The time frame for their deliveries has yet to be disclosed.

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