Preparing for record season on the Northern Sea Route

The Northern Sea Route administration has so far given 54 vessels permission to sail the route in 2013. (Photo: Rosatomflot)

This year’s sailing season on the Northern Sea Route between Europe and Russia will probably be the busiest one ever. The first vessels to take the Arctic shortcut this summer will leave Murmansk in the end of June.


The Northern Sea Route Administration has so far received 89 applications to use the Northern Sea Route (NSR). 54 vessels have so far been given permission to sail along the route, the administration’s web site reads. All the vessels will not sail the whole route between Europe and Russia, some of them will only be working on the western part of the route from Dudinka to Murmansk.

There has been a tenfold increase in the number of vessels using the NSR during the last couple of years. In 2012 46 vessels sailed the whole route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010.

The total cargo transported on the NSR last year was 1 261 545 tons – a 53 percent increase from 2011, when 820 789 tons was shipped on the route. According to conservative estimates the amount will grow to 1,5 million tons in 2013.

The amount of cargo transported through the NSR is expected to increase considerably within the next decade. “A figure around 10 million tons is absolutely normal, it may even be more”, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during the recent Barents Summit in Kirkenes. For the NSP to prove its worth, the right infrastructure needs to be in place, he says. According to Medvedev Russia has done a lot in this field – a development program for the NSR has been approved, the NSR administration has opened. “All the conditions are present, we hope that the Northern Sea Route will expand its commercial advantages. The profitability of transportation along this route I believe is evident for all present in this room”.