MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of gas giant Gazprom, has shipped its first cargo with Arctic oil to China via the Northern Sea Route (NSR), it said on Monday.

Russia is betting on the NSR, an Arctic route requiring icebreakers and special ice-class tankers, to deliver cargoes both to Europe and Asia. Novatek, its top private gas producer, is shipping super-cooled gas via the NSR year-round.

Gazprom Neft said on Monday it took 47 days to deliver a cargo with 144,000 tonnes of light Novy Port oil grade to the Chinese port of Yantai on the Bohai Sea from Russia’s north-western city of Murmansk.

Before the landmark delivery of Novy Port oil, extracted on the Yamal peninsula in Russia’s Arctic, Gazprom Neft, the country’s third biggest oil company by output, was already using the NSR for exports to Europe.

Combined with its second Arctic oil field, Prirazlomnoye in the Pechora Sea, Gazprom Neft has shipped over 40 million tonnes of Arctic oil to Europe since 2013, it said on Monday.

Last October, Russia’s No. 2 oil producer Lukoil sold a cargo of Varandey Blend crude to a Chinese buyer, with the shipment sailing via Arctic waters in an unusual trade flow, sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Mark Potter

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