UPDATE 1-Yamal LNG starts Norway ship transfers to speed up deliveries

(Adds data, further transfer details, quotes from Norwegian authority)

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers are conducting a ship-to-ship transfer of a cargo of Yamal LNG in northern Norway, the Norwegian Coastal Administration said on Thursday, the first such operation that may help the facility to raise its output.

The Vladimir Rusanov, an Arc7 ice-breaking LNG tanker, and the lower Arctic-classed Pskov LNG tanker are both anchored off the northern tip of Norway close to Honningsvag, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

"I can confirm there is an ongoing STS (ship-to-ship) operation in the sea area of Sarnesfjord, approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) south-west of the city of Honningsvag," said Jan Morten Hansen, regional director at the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

The Yamal facility, operated by Russia's Novatek in northern Russia, began operations at the start of last year and has ramped up production much faster than expected.

LNG traders and ships brokers have said its output has been constrained by the availability of Arc7 LNG tankers, which are needed because they can traverse the waters around Yamal without the use of ice-breakers.

The seven Arc7 tankers in operations have thus far been carrying LNG cargoes to Britain, Belgium or the Netherlands and have either unloaded there or transferred the LNG to conventional carriers for onward journeys, at times to Asia.

The ship-to-ship transfer in northern Norway shortens the Arc7 tankers' journeys by hundreds of kilometers, freeing them up to return to Yamal sooner for more cargoes, enabling the facility to raise production. The distance between northern Norway and Zeebrugge in Belgium for example, is 2,000 km.

Hansen said a Norwegian shipping logistics company, Tschudi Arctic Transit AS (TAT), had applied for permits to conduct such operations.

"TAT will conduct regular STS-operations in four positions on Sarnesfjord and Kafjord in North Cape municipality. The permit allows three simultaneous operations in those positions," Hansen told Reuters in emailed comments.

Sarnesfjord is the fjord where the two LNG tankers are currently, while Kafjord is an area on the mainland several kilometers south. (Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)