Yamal paves way for Northern Sea Route

The development of Russia’s $27bn Yamal LNG  plant some 600 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle traffic has been responsible for what was described last week by an industry insider as “unbelievably high” levels of traffic over the past three years; and although the plant is scheduled to come on stream later this year Russia is now expecting to develop the Northern Sea Route as an alternative transit route that will shave 4,500 nautical miles off the conventional journey between East Asia and Northern Europe that currently entails sailing around southeast Asia, across the Indian Ocean, up through the Suez Canal,  and into the Mediterranean before passing through the Straits of Gibraltar.
In  2013, the Chinese-flagged MV Yong Sheng Chinese cargo ship  became the first commercial vessel to reach Rotterdam from Asia via the Northern Sea Route, cutting the journey time by two weeks.
At the time a report from Reuters predicted that the volume of cargo transported by way of the Northern Sea route would rise from 1.25m tons in 2012 to 40m tons in 2021. Several carriers have begun ordering vessel specifically designed to withstand the harsh Arctic conditions, including the Dutch-based Spliethoff group that in March commissioned six-ice-class  multipurpose vehicles  from China’s Ouhua shipyard.