GAC and TransAtlantic sign Arctic agency agreementCompany News // January 24, 2011
GAC Norway has welcomed TransAtlantic's ice-breaking anchor handler Tor Viking II to Hammerfest after its transit of the ice-bound northeast passage, under a new agency agreement that brings together two companies with plans for Arctic expansion.
Berthing at the northern Norwegian port marked the end of the vessel’s voyage from Alaska to Europe through frozen seas, shaving three weeks off the sailing time needed to take the traditional route through the Panama Canal.
It was the first time a commercial vessel had used the Northern Sea Route so late in the year.
Tor Viking II first made the passage in 2007, and the same master, Captain Erik Almkvist, was onboard that she completed the feat.
“The ice situation became more and more difficult as we proceeded to the north-west from the Bering Strait,” says Capt Almkvist. “With ice over 60cm thick and with ridges several metres thick, the passage was more difficult this time compared to our voyage in November 2007.
“When we arrived at Hammerfest, GAC had arranged all necessary clearances and requirements for our stay. Their pre-arrival information and service was very professional and helpful.”
As GAC noted, significant future oil and gas extraction is expected to take place in new fields in the Arctic waters, promoting demand for specialist ice-going offshore vessels with specially-trained crews.
"GAC’s local expertise and global experience in the energy sector, coupled with TransAtlantic’s proven capabilities in executing operations in ice and harsh weather conditions, look set to play an important part as oil and gas exploration gathers momentum," GAC claimed.
Göran Eriksson, TransAtlantic’s Manager Commercial Operations, said: "2010 was a busy year for us in Arctic waters. To succeed in remote areas and harsh environments, it is essential to have a strong and competent port agent like GAC on which to rely.”
GAC Norway’s Managing Director, Ahmet Özsoy, added: “We have expanded our operations in the Arctic with branches in Spitsbergen as well as Hammerfest, as part of our strategic plan to grow further in the region. We are proud and happy to have been appointed to handle TransAtlantic’s agency and logistics needs in northern Norway and look forward to helping both companies achieve their Arctic ambitions.”