The potential cargo amount is a lot higher, but lack of suitable vessels hampers development, General Director of Rosatomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha told RIA Novosti.
According to Ruksha, the private oil company NOVATEK has a potential for sending 700-800 000 tons of gas condensate, while the potential amount of iron ore concentrate from Murmansk and Kirkenes is nearly one ton.
So far there has only been one shipment of iron ore concentrate form Kirkenes to China via NSR. This happened in August 2010 when “MV Nordic Barents” became the first non-Russian flag vessel to use the NSR as a transit trade lane.
- We need more 50-70 000 dwt bulkers with ice capacity, Ruksha says and adds that he recommends ship owners to consider upgrading already existing vessels to ice category.
The nuclear icebreaker fleet has potential to escort far more vessels along the NSR than it does today. According to Ruksha, two ice breakers can provide escort for as much as 2-3 million tons of cargo per month, or a total of 10 million tons during three summer months.
In 2011, 34 vessels transported a total of 820 000 tons in transit on the Northern Sea Route (NSR). This was a huge increase compared to 2010, where only four vessels sailed the whole route from Murmansk to Asia and the total cargo was 111 000 tons, BarentsObserver reported.
Roasatomflot is now negotiating with the Russian Fisheries Agency on more transport of frozen fish products along the NSR. This summer four refrigerators brought a total of 27 500 tons of fish from Asia to St. Petersburg via Murmansk. The plan is to increase this amount to 80-100 000 tons in 2012.