The Northern Sea Route: A review of recent developments

Okhotsk Sea and Polar Oceans Research, Vol 7, No 1, 2023, pp. 13-16

The Russian president and government have over the last 10-12 years expressed high ambitions for development of NSR. International transit shipping has not taken off, but destination shipping has increased radically in recent years, primarily transportation of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal peninsula. Organization of the shipping activities initially involved consortia of international shipping companies, but Russian policies have later taken a protectionist direction. Russia introduced regulations mandating that all oil, liquefied natural gas and coal loaded from within the Northern Sea Route area can only be transported on Russian-flagged ships; and from 2019 transportation of hydrocarbons out of the NSR area would be reserved for vessels built in Russia. The administration of the sea route has recently been changed; all key functions are now concentrated in Rosatom – the mother organization of the nuclear icebreaker fleet. The war in Ukraine creates uncertainty about further development of the sea route as very much depends on the fate of the hydrocarbon projects expected to be the base load of traffic. Technology sanctions, investment restrictions and limitations on market access are likely to slow down their development. This is also likely to affect the very expansive icebreaker construction program.



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