10 March 2011 12:55 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Severe ice conditions in the Gulf of Finland have trapped 90 vessels, including three very large crude carriers (VLCCs), an official with the St Petersburg port authority said on Thursday.
The three VLCCs had loaded Urals crude oil at the port of Primorsk, Russia, and are progressing slowly westward with the help of icebreakers, the official said. Ice-breaking services operating from the port give priority to crude carriers.
The VLCCs are among 90 vessels of all types that are trying to enter or leave ports in the Gulf of Finland, where up to 65cm of fast ice has accumulated in the archipelagos.
Shipments of oil and chemicals have been severely delayed from main ports in the Gulf of Finland, including Primorsk and Vyborg, Russia; Kotka, Finland; and Tallinn, Estonia.
Several chemical tankers had been assisted by icebreakers when arriving to load cargoes and now face long waits for assistance to leave the Gulf of Finland, a shipbroker said.
Further south, in Riga, Latvia, Russian base oil exports are being delayed or cancelled because of ice accumulations of up to 70cm thick in the Gulf of Riga, traders said.
The Baltic Sea is experiencing its harshest winter since 1987. Strong winds have been pushing the ice sheets on top of each other and forming thick layers, a shipping source operating in the area said.
Ice-class restrictions have been in effect in most Baltic ports since January, allowing only specialised vessels to load or discharge cargoes.
Additional reporting by Giovanni Coiro
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