25 Mar 2021 22:17

Northern Sea Route's significance growing in light of Suez Canal incident - Rosatom

MOSCOW. March 25 (Interfax) - The role of the Northern Sea Route, which runs through Russia's seas in the Arctic Ocean, is growing in light of Tuesday's incident in the Suez Canal, Vladimir Panov, a special representative of the Rosatom state nuclear corporation for Arctic development, who is in charge of the development of the Northern Sea Route, said in an interview with Interfax.

"The Suez precedent has shown how fragile any route between Europe and Asia is. Therefore, the development of alternative routes is essential to guarantee sustainable international navigation. This increases the role of the Northern Sea Route, which has been ever more competitive from year to year," Panov said.

"The Northern Sea Route's development hedges logistical risks and makes global trade more sustainable. Undoubtedly, such Asian countries as China, Japan, and South Korea will take the precedent of the Suez Canal's blockage into consideration in their long-term strategic plans," he said.

As reported earlier, Rosatom expects the Northern Sea Route to become an international and national sea transport corridor to compete with the southern route via the Suez Canal by 2035.

Rosatom is conducting a pre-investment study of the Northern Transit Corridor, as part of which it plans to clarify the target segment of the market, determine a marketing strategy, analyze the volume and structure of cargo turnover and routes between Northern Europe and East Asia, assess potential cargo flow, choose a site for transshipment hubs in the east and west of the route, as well as conduct an audit of shipyards for building Arc-7 ice-class pilot series ships.

The Ever Given container carrier chartered by Taiwan's Evergreen ran aground and blocked navigation through the Suez Canal on Tuesday.

The canal's administration is continuing efforts to bring the ship afloat using eight large tugboats. Two more dredgers have been dispatched to the Suez Canal to join the operation.

The administration said on Thursday that navigation via the waterway would be suspended until the Ever Given is brought afloat.

According to the Alphaliner research company, a congestion of 165 ships has formed in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean waiting for the waterway to be unblocked.

If the canal remains blocked long enough, shipping lines could start redirecting their ships around the Cape of Good Hope, which would significantly increase their time in transit.

The Ever Given, bound for the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, is making its way from China with more than 20,000 heavy containers on board. It is one of the largest vessels in its class. It is 400 meters long and 59 meters wide.