Shipping on Northern Sea Route breaks record

A picture taken on May 5, 2016 shows the icebreaker Tor (R) at the port of Sabetta in the Kara Sea shore line on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic circle, some 2450 km of Moscow. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images)
More than 32 million tons of goods has been shipped on the Russian Arctic shipping route in 2020.

As Russia’s vast Arctic waters freeze and ships flee the region, nuclear power company Rosatom makes public its latest Arctic shipping data.

Despite the COVID-19 and global economic downturn, shipping in the region continues to grow. According to Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear power company, the 32 million tons landmark was crossed on Dec. 22.

However, only a minor share of the volumes have been shipped along the eastern part of the route. The overwhelming part has been shipped on the western part, and first of all to the LNG terminal of Sabetta, oil terminal of Kamenny, as well as the Utrenneye construction project in Gydan Peninsula.

Symptomatically, as the new data was presented on Dec. 22, there was not a single ship sailing in the waters between the mouth of great river Yenisey and the Bering Strait, a several thousand kilometer distance.

According to Leonid Irlitsa, Deputy Head of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate, the original target for the year was 29 million tons. A key event this year has been the opening of a new system for automatic management of maritime operations, Irlitsa explains.

The system will allow for a significant growth in transit shipments on the route in 2021, Rosatom argues.

Shipping on the Northern Sea Route has grown extensively over several years. In 2017, a total of 10,7 million tons were transported on the route. In 2018, the volume increased to 20,18 million tons and in 2019 to 31,5 million.

There is still a long way to go before President Putin’s target for Arctic shipping is reached. In his so-called May Decrees from 2018, Putin requests a total of 80 million tons on the route in 2024.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Territorial finance minister in Arctic Canada predicts ‘largest deficit in Nunavut history’ due to COVID-19, CBC News

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland issues new exploration, prospecting licences to Anglo American, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Minister downplays environmental impact of planned mine in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: The Arctic Railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Growth continues on Northern Sea Route despite year of crisis, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: RBC latest bank that will not directly fund drilling projects in Alaskan Arctic refuge, CBC News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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