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Summary of Working Paper No. 11-1995

III.10.1: Assessment of Potential Cargo from and to Europe via the NSR

By Řivind Andersen and Tore Heggeli, Heggeli, Maizels, Westerberg & Co. AS, Oslo, and Tor Wergeland,CIES, Bergen, Norway.

This report attempts to analyze the cargo potential of transit trades on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) by way of interviews with cargo owners and some aggregated United Nations statistics. The interviews show clearly that the NSR is a virtually unknown shipping alternative for cargo owners. Many cargo owners dismiss the NSR as an alternative without reservation due to their demand for regularity and predictability. Others are willing to consider the NSR if detailed and clear information as to freight rates, sailing times, insurance costs, transit fees and organizational matters is regularly provided to agencies and the broking community in the West. The current information is insufficient for cargo owners to make specific logistical choices.

The report identifies a few cargo owners as potential users of the NSR. They are characterized by fairly irregular shipments of dry cargo to the Far East and will be concerned about regularity, but also price and quality of service. Some indicate that the NSR could be a welcome alternative to a less satisfactory service on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The aggregated data analysis identifies a handful of individual cargoes that dominated the seaborne trade between Europe and the Far East in the mid 1980s. It also identifies the Northern European countries as the main geographical area for the marketing of the NSR as a transit service.