Following on from our article concerning Chinas expansion into the Arctic, this week there has been a first for shipping, as the first commercial tanker crosses the Arctic sea route in winter.
Thawing polar ice in the region of Russia’s Northern Coastline means that this could be a viable option of increasing maritime trade to the region.
The vessel, named Eduard Toll, set out from South Korea in December for the Sabetta terminal in northern Russia, cutting through ice 1.8m thick. Last month, it completed the route, delivering a load of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Montoir, France.
Bermuda-based firm Teekay is investing in six ships to serve the Yamal LNG project in northern Russia. A similarly designed vessel owned by Sovcomflot made the same passage last August. The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to the tanker’s Russian owners.
Arctic sea ice is steadily thinning and receding, with seasonal fluctuation, as global temperatures rise due to human activity. In January 2018, ice extent hit another record low for the month, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre There has been an overall decline in Arctic sea ice over the past 30 years, linked by scientists to rising global temperatures. In 2017, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, the annual maximum extent of Arctic sea ice hit a record low for the third year in a row.
While polar conditions remain tough, the trend creates market opportunities. The northern sea route is shorter than alternatives through the Suez Canal for many trade links between Europe and Asia.
To view the video please go here
There are also some fantastic photos here
Source: The Guardian / BBC