Northern Sea Route: new epoch of global cargo transportation
An international marine checkpoint for ships sailing through the Northern Sea Route has opened at the Russian Siberian port of Dudinka, reports the Voice of Russia’s Mikhail Aristov. The Russian diesel-electric ship Zapolyarny was the first vessel to be checked there as it transports its cargo of metal to the Chinese city of Shanghai from Russia’s Kola Peninsula.
It will take the Zapolyarny twenty days to reach the destination using the Northern Sea Route, experts explain, citing at least 65 days the ship would have spent if it used European ports and the Suez Canal. This is why many have already touted the opening of the Dudinka maritime checkpoint as a new step in developing the Northern Sea Route – something that makes it easier to duly deliver Russian supplies to the Asia-Pacific region.
Vladimir Sokolov, of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg, says that the main headache is the rigorous Arctic conditions when it comes to the Northern Sea Route.
"Tackling huge amounts of drift ice there is still an issue, Sokolov says, praising efforts by the Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, which is currently based in the Russian port of Murmansk and successfully implements its mission of clearing the way for vessels sailing via the Northern Sea Route."
To contribute to the mission, at least three new generation nuclear-powered icebreakers will be built in Russia by 2020. By the way, nine of the existing ten nuclear-powered icebreakers in the world are the Russian-made vessels.
Meanwhile, foreign companies have already indicated intent to use the Northern Sea Route in the near future, Sokolov added.
"The international community currently considers the feasibility of exploiting the Northern Sea Route, a process that is being financed by the European Union," Sokolov says.
For his part, Russia’s presidential chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin pointed to the Northern Sea Route’s role in developing natural resources in the Russian Arctic shelf, which is estimated to hold the equivalent of 100 billion tons of oil. The oil and the liquefied natural gas can be transported to Asia-Pacific countries from the Arctic by tankers, Naryshkin said.
"Expanding practical energy cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries is of strategic importance to us, Naryshkin says, citing the region’s ever-increasing hydrocarbon demands."
Resource-producing companies plan to increase its cargo transportation volumes through the Northern Sea Fleet to 64 million tons by 2020. With the figure set to stand at 85 million tons by 2030, one can safely say that developing the Northern Sea Route will help open a new epoch of global cargo transportation.