Arctic Shipping Route Plagued by Icebergs and Insurance

The new shipping route opened up through the Arctic by climate change will not be crowded any time soon. Cargoes of coal, diesel and gas have made the trip but high insurance costs, slow going and strict environmental rules mean there will not be a rush to follow them.

"Significant safety and navigational concerns remain an obstacle to commercial shipping in the Northern Sea route, despite recent media reports of 'successful' transits," said Richard Hurley, a senior analyst at shipping intelligence publisher IHS Maritime.

"AIS (ship) tracking of vessels in the area shows all vessels are subject to deviation from direct routes as a result of ice, and many areas still cannot be navigated safely without the presence of large icebreakers able to provide assistance such as lead through to clearer waters."

Last month, a dry bulk vessel carrying coal from Canada passed through the Northwest Passage to deliver a cargo to Finland, in a trip its operators said would save $80,000 worth of fuel and cut shipping time by a week.

Hurley said the passage of the Yong Sheng cargo vessel in August from China to Europe via the Northern Sea was only possible with the aid of the world's largest nuclear powered icebreaker, 50 Let Pobedy, to get it through the Lapatev Sea. Ship tracking showed only four large icebreakers were available at any one time to cover the whole Northern sea route.

Story courtesy of the Maritime Executive, for the full article click here.

exactAIS® tracking showing 6 vessels traversing through the new Arctic shipping routes between September and October, 2013.

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