“The Northern Sea Route is predicted to have up to 125 days per year suitable for navigation by 2050,” says the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday. The report is not a wild-card scenario; “climate changes are already well underway,” reads the conclusion based on science- and research from around the globe.
Today the Northern Sea Route is open for navigation around 50 days, with an increase the latest four years. While the Russians have sailed interregional voyages from Murmansk and Arkhangelsk towards the north coast of Siberia for decades, transit shipping is relatively new. First ever bulk-vessel to sail the Northern Sea Route in transit was in 2010 with iron-ore from Kirkenes, Norway to China without making a stopover at a Russian port.
The scientists underline that predicted duration of ice-free periods in the Arctic Ocean is generally underestimated.
Shipping from major European ports to Shanghai is some 40 percent shorter via the Northern Sea Route compared with the Suez Canal. Shorter shipping distance cuts emissions, but increases the probability of shipping accidents with severe consequences for the fragile Arctic environment.
The ice-free period for shipping coincides with the breeding season of sea mammals and sea birds. Accidents with oil spill could therefore be disastrous.
Record low sea-ice was seen during summer in both 2007 and 2012.
Gazprom Neft has for the first time sent oil from Yamal along the northern Sea Route in winter conditions. 16.000 tons of crude oil was shipped to European consumers by oil tanker, escorted by a nuclear icebreaker.
Russia is prepared to protect its interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary, says Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, pointing to the increasing interest in the region’s resources by countries with no direct access to the Arctic.
“Ship-to-ship reloading of oil in icy-waters outside Kirkenes is a great example that Norway jeopardizes nature by lowering safety standards in our race for industrialization of the north,” says Lars Haltbrekken, head of the Norwegian Society for the conservation of Nature.
The UK needs to up its game in the Arctic or risk being «outmaneuvered” by other states, and should start by appointing an ambassador to the region, according to a report by the House of Lords Arctic Committee.
Could the Northern Sea Route be suitable for shipment of fish from the Far East to the European parts of Russia and vice versa? Stake holders in Russia’s fisheries industry and fishery authorities believe so.
“Whatever the pressure, Rakurs will continue to support LGBT community, to provide legal and psychological help. And we are going to challenge this wrongful decision in the court,” says Tatiana Vinnichenko, head of the organization.