The Northern Sea Route: Smooth Sailing Ahead?

Strategic Analysis, Vol 38, No 6, 2014, pp. 784-802.

Transit traffic on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) has increased considerably in the last few years, in relative terms. There is no clear pattern of transit cargo on the NSR and little indication that cargo owners or shipping companies have committed themselves to use of this sea route for the longer term. An important exception to this picture is the Yamal LNG (liquefied natural gas) project, which will be based on yearround use of the NSR. Administrative procedures have improved and escort fees have become competitive, but are not transparent. The future capacity of the icebreaker fleet is being questioned, and so is the need for icebreakers. Also, Russia lacks an integrated policy for the NSR.