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  March 13th, 2017 | Written by

Shipments From Europe to Asia Through Arctic Are Still Rare

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  • In 2016, 19 ships transited the Northern Sea Route between Asia and Europe.
  • Cargo on Northern Sea Route in 2016 was less than in 2012.
  • 19 vessels made the voyage along the Northern Sea Route between Asia and Europe last year.

Russia is making a big move in the Arctic, building new infrastructure and promoting northern shipping routes as an alternative to the Suez Canal.

Shipping through the Arctic is being made more possible by the warming of the ocean and the retreat of sea ice made possible by climate change. Ironically, shipping from Asia to Europe and the Americas through the Arctic would save on fossil fuels, as well as time and costs.

But reports indicate that few shipping companies are actually transporting cargo between Asia and Europe along Russia’s Arctic coast.

In 2016, only 19 ships, carrying 214,513 tons of cargo, transited the route. That’s more than made similar voyages in 2015, but much less than 2012, when 1.35 million tons of cargo were carried on that route.

Of the 19 vessels making the voyage last year, 11 sailed from west to east, and seven flew the Russian flag. Twelve of the journeys were made without icebreaker assistance.

Eight of the ships were general cargo carriers, two of which carried coal from Vancouver, Canada, to Raahe in Finland. One of the carriers handled oil products, and there were two refrigerated ships, one transporting frozen fish from Kamchatka to St. Petersburg and the other frozen meat from Tromsø, Norway, to Osaka, Japan.

On the other hand, goods was shipped to and from ports along the Northern Sea Route saw increases last year. A total of 7.265 million tons were transported within the region, an increase of 35 percent from 2015. Around 3.1 million tons were delivered to regional ports, and 4.15 million tons were shipped out from the area. Oil products amounted to 3.47 million tons, while coal totaled 219,000 tons and gas condensate, 114,000 tons. Dry cargo equaled to 3.4 million tons.

The Northern Sea Route includes waterways between Novaya Zemlya and the Bering Strait and is managed by the Northern Sea Route Administration in Moscow.