15:10 GMT20 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Northern Sea Route (NSR), which runs along Russia’s Arctic coast, dramatically slashes journey times for goods shipped from Asia to Europe and has a huge potential to ramp up cargo traffic, the Russian Ministry of Energy said on Monday after a stranded megaship caused almost a week-long shutdown of the Suez Canal.

    According to the ministry, given the growing global energy trade, including in LNG, the emergence of additional short shipping routes is becoming a matter of time.

    "The Northern Sea Route, whose navigation period continues to increase and reached 9-10 months in 2020, has a high potential to expand cargo traffic, significantly cutting transit time for goods shipped from Asia to Europe. The NSR ships liquefied natural gas, oil, and many other goods," the statement read.

    Even in the pandemic year of 2020, cargo traffic via the NSR exceeded the planned target and totaled nearly 33 million tonnes, including over 18 million tonnes of LNG.

    The ministry expects annual cargo traffic to further grow and hit 80 million tonnes by 2024.

    The Suez Canal, a vital link between Asia and Europe, hasn't been traversable since last Tuesday, when a 224,000-tonne container ship ran aground on its way from China to the Netherlands.

    After almost a week of attempts, megaship Ever Given was finally refloated on Monday morning. Navigation via the key water artery, whose blockade is said to be costing the world trade $400 million an hour, is expected to resume within several hours, a source with the Suez Canal operator told Sputnik.

    Russia, Northern sea, Suez Canal, Ever Given, Evergreen
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