Russia to Begin Year-Round Navigation Along NSR in 2024


The nuclear-powered icebreaker Sibir arrives to its home port of Murmansk from St Petersburg. Photo: ALAMY

Year-round maritime navigation along the Northern Sea Route will be ensured from 2024. By instruction of the Chairman of the Government, coordinated work is underway to develop the necessary infrastructure, Russian Deputy Prime Minister said.

The greatest interest in year-round navigation is shown by Russian companies associated with the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

For the development of the industry, a centre for the construction of large-capacity offshore structures has been created, which can mass-produce liquefied natural gas lines in Murmansk. In this context, the Northern Sea Route is of particular importance, Russian Deputy Prime Minister added.

Experts are confident that this will lead to a significant increase in LNG exports. Arctic LNG 2 project alone includes the construction of three lines with an annual capacity of 19.8 million tonnes of liquefied gas.

Thus, in order to export additional volumes, year-round navigation in the Eastern sector of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) is crucial. At the moment, the navigation in the eastern NSR sector is only available from mid-June to mid-November.

Full year-round use of the NSR requires icebreaker support. It is reported that about 90 large-tonnage ice-class vessels and icebreakers need to be built in the coming years.

Russia will continue to build Project 22220 universal nuclear-powered icebreakers. Nuclear-powered icebreakers of Project 22220 will facilitate the year-round navigation in the Northern Sea Route's eastern sector. Presently, three universal nuclear-powered icebreakers of Project 22220 are operating in the NSR waters: the Arktika, the Sibir, and the Ural.

The Northern Sea Route is a shipping route and the main sea line in the Russian Arctic sector. It stretches along the northern coasts of Russia across the seas of the Arctic Ocean. The route consolidates the European and Far Eastern ports of Russia and navigable river mouths in Siberia into a single transport system. The route’s length is 5,600 km from the Kara Strait to Providence Bay.

The distance from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands to the port of Yokohama in Japan (which is a southern channel via the Suez Canal) is 11,205 nautical miles, or 7345 nautical miles, when using the NSR. Besides, the NSR shortens the distance from Rotterdam to Shanghai by 2,449 nautical miles.