OJSC Yamal LNG has awarded a tender to Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to build ARC7 ice-class LNG tankers, the company said in a statement.

It said seven of the world's "leading shipyards" bid at the tender.

A slot reservation agreement was signed with the tender winner. It envisions the actual building, launch, equipping, and delivery of as many as sixteen tankers, as well as setting an initial price tag for the ships and a schedule for their building and delivery.

The shipyard will be working on hull shape, testing models, to improve the ships' performance. The agreement also involves conferring the rights to financing and purchasing tankers by a third party to transporters chosen by Yamal LNG.

Under the agreement, the shipyard is obliged to provide a Russian ship-builder selected by Yamal LNG with the necessary authority to build gas tankers, including the transfer of design and other technical documentation, the training of Russian engineers and workers, and the subcontracting of a domestic producer for some of the work.

ARC7 tankers are designed for the year-round transport of natural gas produced by the Yamal LNG product. They can operate in temperatures of up to -50 degrees centigrade and break through ice up to 2.1 meters thick.

The Yamal LNG project involves the building of a plant with capacity of 16.5 million annual tonnes using gas from the Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye deposit. Proven and probable resources in the deposit, per PRMS standards, have been put at 907 billion cubic meters (bcm) as of December 31 last year. The project involves the creation of transportation infrastructure, including a seaport and airport near the town of Sabetta in the northeastern part of the Yamal peninsula.

OJSC Yamal LNG is carrying out the project. Its shareholders are independent gas producer OJSC Novatek (RTS: NVTK) with 80% and France's Total with the other 20%.

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(Originally published July 4, 2013, in Russia & CIS Business and Financial Newswire.)