Meeting with President Vladimir Putin this week, Sovcomflot leader Sergey Frank confirmed that his company is rapidly extending shipping along the Arctic sea route connecting Europe and Asia. According to the company leader, year-round shipping along the western part of the route, to the Yamal Peninsula, is already operational, while transshipments along the whole route can be made for up to six months of the year.
"The Northern Sea Route is coming to life as we speak," Mr. Frank told Putin.
The waters between the New Siberian Islands and the Wrangle island remain the most ice-covered and complicated part of the route, Frank told the president, a press release from the Kremlin reads.
As previously reported, the extent of sea ice along the route is below average and vessels are sailing parts of the route without icebreaker escort. A total of 270 vessels have so far this year received permits to sail along the Northern Sea Route, a fivefold increase from 2012.
According to Mr. Frank, Sovcomflot this year sent the first vessel along the NSR two weeks earlier than in 2012.
For Sovcomflot, Russian Arctic energy projects now increasingly constute a growth driver. In previous years, the company has served mostly foreign clients.
As displayed in BarentsObserver’s interactive visualization, a total of 46 vessels in 2012 sailed transit along the NSR. Five years ago, the number was zero. In 2009, two ships, the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight", made the trans-continental journey. Then, in 2011, the shipments picked pace with as many as 41 vessels.