"Cargo traffic along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) remains high, but the existing ice-class fleet is not enough for its development, and we can observe this situation all over the world," said Alexei Chekunkov, Head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic
According to him, in 2022, 34 million tons of cargo were delivered via the NSR, and the same amount is planned to be delivered in 2023. It is expected that by the end of 2024, the cargo traffic along the route will more than double, up to 80 million tons, and by 2031 it will reach up to 200 million tons.
"The greatest concern is the availability of ice-class fleet in sufficient quantities. There is simply no such fleet in the world in the volume needed to transport 200 million tons in the next seven-eight years. And the production cycle of a large ice-class tanker lasts not months, but years,"Alexei Chekunkov in his interview with RBC
According to him, lack of production capacity is the main problem. As the Head of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, he underlined that the issue of a sufficient number of both shipyards and specialists is now being discussed "with our key partners". In particular, negotiations are underway with India and China.
"India is interested in cooperation to develop northern navigation and has a potential interest in joint shipbuilding ... China, of course... Together we will be able to produce an ice-class fleet in sufficient quantity," Alexei Chekunkov believes.
The Northern Sea Route is the shortest sea route from Europe to Asia. NSR is a transport route along the Arctic coastline of Russia that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.