Arctic Voyages Rise Tenfold in Two Years

Thursday November 29, 2012

The number of vessels going through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) jumped from four in 2010 to 34 in 2011 and then to 46 this year, with petroleum products making up the largest part of the cargo transported, according to Barents Observer.

This year the total cargo transported on the route is 1.3 million tonnes, up 53 percent from last year, including 894,079 tonnes of diesel fuel, gas condensate, jet fuel, liquefied natural gas, and other petrol products.

Twenty-five of the vessels traveled east from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, or Baydaratskaya Bay, while 21 headed west.

Of the 26 vessels that carried petroleum products, 18 sailed from west to east.

Two Finnish vessels, Nordica and Fennica, are currently underway from Alaska to Denmark were expected to be the last vessels to use the route this season, the report said.

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker chartered by Russian gas company Gazprom became the first ship of its kind to travel the Arctic route this year.

Shipowners say the northern route, made more passable by the melting of arctic ice, can reduce bunker costs by 40 percent because the distance is much less than the standard route through the Suez Canal.

One company, Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S, said it October that it would do 10 voyages through the NSR by the end of the season, more than the six to eight it had initially planned.