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Russia to build 2 Arctic oil tankers

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, May 18 (UPI) -- Russia is to begin building high-tech Arctic oil tankers, ITAR-TASS reported.

Sovkonflot, Russia's biggest state-owned sea transport company, and Admiralteyskiye Verfi, the St. Petersburg-based shipyard, have concluded and signed a $350 million deal for the construction of two arctic oil tankers, which will be used to transport oil from the off-shore Prirazlomnoye oil field, the news agency reported Wednesday.

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The tankers, which will be built in accordance with both the Lloyds Register and Russia's Maritime Registry of shipping, will be of an "original construction" that will allow them to adapt to the changing waters of the arctic; they can move stern first in frozen waters, or bow first in normal conditions.

In addition to the flexibility in movement, the tankers will have helicopter landing pads, be capable of cutting through ice nearly 1.5 meters (5 feet) thick, and will be able to load cargo through the bow in arctic conditions.

Work on the first tanker is expected to begin in December; a projected launch date of August 2008 has been announced. The second tanker is due to be launched in May 2009.

Following the signing of the contract Sergey Frank, director of Sovkomflot, announced that his company will move their head office from Moscow to St. Petersburg on July 1.

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