The Russian president Vladimir Putin has officially signed off a federal law which has granted control over the Arctic north sea shipping route to state-run nuclear group Rosatom, making it the sole operator of one of the world’s largest emerging trade routes.
The Russian government has given the company control over infrastructure, access, security and shipping in the northern waterway, which would greatly save sailing times between Europe and Far East. The responsibilities of the Northern Sea Route administration, will be transfered by the country’s Ministry of Transport to Rosatom.
Rosatom currently operates a fleet of five nuclear-powered icebreakers with another four under construction. In the meantime, the company is also planning to build a 120mw super powerful icebreaker Lider, which is said to be capable of breaking through four meter thick ice at 12 knots speed.
Maxim Kulinko, deputy head of Northern Sea Route directorate at Rosatom told Financial Times that the company wants to be like Yandex taxi for icebreakers in the Arctic, referring to Russia’s most popular taxi-hailing app.
With the opening up of Arctic shipping routes, there are also increasing concerns over the environmental impact from the increasing shipping activities in the region. Last year, member states of the IMO have committed to developing a ban on heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping, along with an assessment of the impact of such a ban.
The Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of 18 non-governmental organisations working to end HFO use as marine fuel in Arctic waters, called for member states to make every effort to adopt and rapidly implement a ban by 2021.
In May last year, PAO Novatek, Russia’s largest independent gas production and sales company created a transportation subsidiary Maritime Arctic Transport to build up its Arctic navigation competencies.
In 2018, about 18m tons of cargoes were transported via the arctic shipping route, an almost 70 percent surge from 2017.