Tanker without ice class on the Northern Sea Route provokes criticism | Polarjournal
The bulk carrier “Gingo” was built in 2000 and sails under the Liberian flag. (Photo: Harvey Wilson)

Due to the sanctions imposed by the West, Russia has increased its focus on deliveries to Asian customers. Transport from the Barents Sea to the port of Rizhao in China via the Northeast Passage takes 35 days, which is 10 days less than the alternative southern route through the Suez Canal. The potential for time and fuel savings is significant. Although Russian shipping companies own many ice-class tankers, there are not enough of them to transport all exports to the Far East via the Northeast Passage.

According to Russian media reports, the bulk carrier “Gingo” was the first ship without ice class to transit the Northeast Passage from Murmansk, carrying 164,600 tonnes of iron ore concentrate to China. At the same time, the Aframax tanker “Leonid Loza” also sailed through the Northeast Passage without ice class, another first.

The tanker “Leonid Loza” has no ice class and sails under Liberian flag. Year of construction of the ship is 2011. (Photo: Hannes van Rijn)

It seems that the Russian authorities are willing to compromise safety by allowing the use of non-ice class vessels to sail across the Arctic Ocean. According to experts at New York-based tanker brokerage Poten & Partners, Russia risks an environmental disaster if it uses vessels without ice class on its increasingly busy Northeast Passage.

The weather can change quickly. In November 2021, an early cold snap left more than 20 ships stuck in Arctic waters along the route.

In June this year, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that some $21 billion would be invested in the development of the Northern Sea Route over the next 13 years. The investment would include the construction of 50 icebreakers and ice-class vessels, the construction of ports, and the creation of an orbital satellite constellation. All this is far in the future, while environmentalists are concerned about the risks that will emerge in the coming months.

Sian Prior, senior advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, is concerned about what is happening in the Arctic. (Photo: CAA)

“The rapid expansion of Arctic shipping traffic using fossil fuels and opening Arctic Sea routes to year-round navigation for transporting fossil fuels heightens the risk of spills and leakages, increases underwater noise pollution, and destroys ice ecosystems and habitats of ice-dependent species such as seals and polar bears. It also poses a significant threat to the food security and livelihoods of Indigenous communities whose survival and sustenance rely on their intricate relationship with a healthy Arctic environment,” Sian Prior, senior advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, told Splash last month..

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This