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Arctic oil shipment on rise

The supertanker "Belokamenka" serves as a floating reloading hub in the Kola bay. This photo taken when the vessel was outside Kirkenes, northern Norway.

More than one million tons more of petroleum products were shipped through the Barents Sea in 2013 than the year before.

Location

Unlike on most other Oceans, the oil transported in the waters outside the northernmost coastline of Norway and Russia is onboard relatively new tankers. Of the 21 vessels sailing notrth of Finnmark in December, only one was older than 14 years. None of them were single-hull tankers.

Although not as big as predicted a few years ago, the transport of petroleum in the European part of the Arctic is on rise. Last year, more than 12 million tons of oil was in transit to and from the Barents Region. That is up 1,28 million tons compared with 2012.

A total of 298 tankers carried petroleum products in the Barents Sea in 2013.

Joint surveillance
It is the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) in Vardø that is in charge of the surveillance along the coast and presents the annual statistics. The officers on duty in Vardø have formalized a good cooperation with harbor and coastal authorities in Murmansk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Most of the oil in transit is shipped from Murmansk where it is re-loaded to larger tankers from other vessels and rail wagons.

All vessels passing through or proceeding to and from ports and anchorages within the Barents area have to report in to the vessel traffic management information system, named Barents VTMIS

Northern Sea Route
Half a million tons of the fuel-oil, oil-condensate and LNG were transported along the Northern Sea Route, from the Barents Sea towards the Bering strait in the period from July to November. Of the 16 tankers sailing north of Siberia, nine voyages happened in October, the month when there was least sea ice. Two of the tankers come from Norway’s Mongstad refinery while one was loaded with liquid natural gas (LNG) from Statoil’s Melkøya plant on the Barents Sea coast.