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Is the Arctic Ocean set to become a main shipping route in the near future?

arctic

Russia is looking to set up a state-run container ship operator to support its efforts to develop the northern sea route in the Arctic region.

There has been much debate on the adoption of northern sea routes in the shipping industry. In the past few months, major boxship operators including CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and MSC have officially declared that they would not use the Arctic routes due to environmental concerns. Another three shipping majors, Maersk, MOL and Cosco, have all completed trial Arctic voyages in the last couple of years.

According to some estimates, Arctic ice is retreating to the extent that the Northwest Passage could become an economically viable shipping route. For shipping firms transporting goods from China or Japan to Europe or the east coast of the US, the passage would cut thousands of miles off journeys that currently go via the Panama or Suez canals.

An absence of sea-ice in the Northern Sea Route would lower the costs of shipping and potentially create opportunities, for instance in moving resources and goods between Russian Arctic ports and East Asian ports, that might not be profitable in the presence of sea ice.

So we’re looking at a new passage through the northern hemisphere, cheaper and faster between the continents. Who know what’s next ?