Northern Sea Route To Lower Nordic Bunker Costs

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday June 14, 2012

Nordic Bulk Carriers A/S (Nordic) is planning to transport six to eight 70,000 metric tonne (mt) shipments of iron ore to China using the Northern Sea Route (NSR) this year which, compared with going via the Suez Canal, will save it 1,000 mt of fuel, or $650,000, Nordic's Managing Director Christian Bonfils has told Bloomberg.

"We plan to use the Northern Sea Route if it makes sense and we can rely on it," Bonfils said.

It could save the company up to $5.2 million if all eight journeys are made.

The fuel savings come from the substantially shorter voyage time when using the NSR, with Nordic saying the Murmansk, Russia to China journey is cut to 23 days from the 43 days it takes going through Suez.

Bonfils also said using the NSR means it doesn't have to pay the Suez Canal toll as well as being able to avoid high risk piracy areas, so voyage insurance was less.

It does mean it incurs icebreaking fees though, which he said exceed that of the Canal toll.

Hellerup, Denmark-based Nordic, say that by the end of the year they will become the biggest user of the NSR in terms of transported volume and already have a fleet of four class 1A "ice bulk carriers", the only class of vessels permitted to use the route.

Two of the vessels are 75,000 dwt panamax sized and the other two are 43,000 dwt handymax vessels.

Nordic say that in 2010 they were the first company to use the NSR to transport cargo through the Arctic to China, and used the route again last year.

"It is safer, shorter and thereby more eco-friendly," Nordic said of the NSR in a press release.