Navigating the Northern Sea Route in 2023: Achievements and Future Plans
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The route's potential impact on international logistics includes significant reductions in fuel consumption and the carbon footprint of maritime transport.
In a recent meeting during the Eastern Economic Forum, a group called the Council of Shipping Participants discussed how well things are going for ships traveling through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in 2023.
The Northern Sea Route, a promising Arctic transport route, offers advantages such as shorter distances, enhanced cargo safety, and reduced travel times compared to traditional routes like the Suez Canal.
Major highlights of the meeting included a comprehensive review of port infrastructure development, hydrographic support initiatives, and strategies to enhance the competitive edge of NSR navigation.
Participants also received updates on projects like establishing a coal cluster on the Taimyr Peninsula to support NSR cargo operations and the progress of Ministry of Emergency Situations exercises. A key focus was directed towards the Earth Remote Sensing (ERS) space system, a collaborative effort with the Russian government aimed at monitoring the NSR effectively.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of PAO Sovcomflot Sergey Frank said that considerable preparatory work has been done to organize year-round navigation in the eastern sector of the NSR.
"Participants of the Council meeting note that cargo owners and shipping companies maintain good dynamics in the implementation of the NSR development plans,” he said.
Frank highlighted the importance of maintaining a robust icebreaker fleet, improving ice reconnaissance facilities, and enhancing safety measures to boost the overall competitiveness of the Northern Sea Route.
“The construction of a new generation of Arctic cargo ships requires the most serious attention. It is necessary to find mechanisms that will allow to increase the pace of renewal and replenishment of the fleet of ice-class cargo ships as soon as possible", Frank said.
Director General of ROSATOM Alexey Likhachev, acknowledged the corporation's successful management of the NSR over the past year, emphasizing the absence of serious incidents and the streamlined operation of GlavSevmorput as a central hub for navigation and icebreaker fleet management.
"GlavSevmorput acts as a single center of navigation and icebreaker fleet management in the NSR water area, capable of ensuring navigation safety, and stable operation of cargo transportation," Likhachev stressed.
Likhachev also noted that one of the most important areas is joint preparation with NOVATEK for year-round navigation along the NSR. "We plan to organize regular through voyages in the eastern part of the NSR this winter. Year-round navigation along the entire route will bring the development of it to a new level, and it will inevitably become an integral element of global transportation logistics", added Alexey Likhachev.
Director General of GlavSevmorput Sergey Zybko, highlighted a historic achievement in late August - early September when an ice-free bulk carrier, with a significant cargo, sailed along the NSR. This marked a milestone in NSR navigation, showcasing the vessel's independent journey with support from GlavSevmorput Headquarters and the assistance of nuclear-powered icebreakers.
"In the East Siberian Sea, the navigation through areas with light ice conditions was conducted by the nuclear-powered icebreaker Sibir as part of a caravan together with the tanker Olimpiysky Prospekt, and then by the nuclear-powered icebreaker Taimyr", said Zybko.
ROSATOM Special Representative for Arctic Development Vladimir Panov emphasized the need for long-term planning in shaping Arctic logistics. He underscored the transition from merely developing NSR infrastructure to managing the cost of Arctic logistics, ensuring competitiveness for all cargo types in energy markets.
"At the same time it is important that the approach should have a long-term character and be fixed in program documents so that every shipper on the NSR could see the state policy guaranteeing the efficiency and competitiveness of transportation", said Panov.
The NSR Shipping Participants Council, formed in 2022, plays a crucial role in proposing improvements for efficient collaboration among investment project operators, shipping companies, and ROSATOM as the NSR infrastructure operator.
As the NSR continues to evolve, regular freight traffic, new nuclear icebreakers, and upgraded infrastructure are key elements in its sustained development. The route's potential impact on international logistics includes significant reductions in fuel consumption and the carbon footprint of maritime transport.
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