Shipping Traffic on Russia’s Northern Sea Route Grows
Shipping traffic in Russia’s Arctic waters saw significant growth in 2017, with cargo volume increasing by 40 percent over 2016.
Cargo volume on the Northern Sea Route is expected to reach 10.2 million tons in 2017, as compared to 7.5 million tons last year, according to the NSR Administration.
In recent years, with the continued disappearance of Arctic sea ice, projections for the Arctic as a new international trade route have increased. Still, most shipping activity on the NSR occurred between July and October—when the route saw around 70 percent of its annual traffic—the same as in previous years.
According to the NSR Administration, between 12 and 109 vessels operated in the NSR on any given day between January 1 and November 15. September 21 was the busiest day, with 109 vessels on the route. August and September saw consistent traffic of around 100 vessels on the route daily. During the first six months of the year, an average of 20 vessels per day transited the NSR. Of the 300 vessels that operated on the route during 2017, all but 75 flew the Russia flag. Of the 24 vessels that transited the complete route as of November 15, most were non-Russian.
Chinese shipping companies increased their presence in the route in 2017, with over a dozen Chinese-flagged vessels operating on the NSR, including five full transits.
Deliveries of construction materials for the building of the port of Sabetta and the Yamal LNG liquefaction plant also contributed to the growth in traffic on the NSR. In 2017 some 300 vessels called at Sabetta making it the most frequented port on the route.
With the opening of Novatek’s Yamal LNG project, traffic is forecasted to grow more rapidly in future years with deliveries of natural gas via the NSR.