NSR – Russia to focus on domestic projects

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Radar stations are under construction in the Russian district of Vorkuta and in the Arctic Murmansk region. (iStock)
Russia says though international traffic is down, domestic shipping along the Northern Sea Route is healthy. (iStock)
REYKJAVIK: Transit cargo between Europe and Asia is plummeting, but cargo to and from Russian ports along the Northern Sea Route is increasing considerably, Russia’s deputy minister of transport says.

“Low bunker oil prices has made the Northern Sea Route less attractive for ship-owners,” Russia’s Deputy Minister of Transport Viktor Olersky said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly on Saturday.

In the plenary session “Russia in the Arctic”, Olersky presented the latest updates on traffic along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and prognosis for the future.

Cargo in transit along NSR has gone down from 1.3 million tons in 2013 to 300,000 tons in 2014. By October 1, 2015 less than 100,000 tons had been transported between Asia and Europe on NSR:

Cargo to and from Russian ports along NSR has gone up from 2.8 million tons in 2013 to 3.7 million tons in 2014, and 4.5 million tons in 2015. Most of this increase comes as a result of large oil and gas developments in the Russian Arctic, like the huge Yamal LNG project, and the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea.

Crucial role in Arctic offshore projects

Russian authorities still sees a bright future for shipping along its northern shoreline, but not as a busy international shipping route. “It is 100% sure that the Northern Sea Route will be no alternative to the Suez Canal”, Olersky said in in interview earlier. But for Arctic offshore projects it will play a crucial role.

The latest prognosis that the Ministry of Transport are using, show that cargo traffic will increase in the coming years and reach a total of 83 million tons by 2030. But this will be mainly cargo to and from Russian ports – oil, gas, ore concentrate, as well as supplies and cargo for the new industrial projects.

The prospects for transit cargo in 2030 are put to only 5 million tons.

Olersky informed that a development project for NSR in the period to 2030 has been approved, and will be released soon.

Related stories from around the North:

Asia: Asia ahead on preparing for polar climate change, says U.S. Arctic rep, Eye on the Arctic

Canada:  Ice, shipping and the Northwest Passage, Radio Canada International

China: Chinese company mulls more Arctic shipping, Barents Observer

Iceland:  Germany, Iceland cooperate on new transpolar port, Barents Observer

Russia:  New law would allow only Russian-flagged ships in Russian Arctic, Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish icebreakers gear up for Arctic role, Radio Sweden

United States:  Arctic no shipping rival to Suez: expert, Alaska Public Radio Network

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