Weathernews, which supports safe navigation through the Arctic, has reported record-breaking heat in the Arctic this year, with sea ice decreasing at the fastest rate in the history of observation. This has led to an increase of voyages through the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
The melting Arctic ice has had a significant effect on ships navigating the Northeast Passage (Russian side) of the NSR, which remained open until October 21st this year, the latest date on record. In addition, the Northwest Passage (Canadian side) was open for the first time in three years during September. According to Weathernews, voyages between Asia and Europe using the NSR experienced reduced transportation costs and CO2 emissions.
The company says that throughout 2019, they have helped reduce CO2 emissions by 12,500 tonnes compared to ships voyaging through the Suez Canal.
Regular use of the NSR has increased in recent years, and LNG carriers are active in transporting liquefied natural gas produced in the Arctic Ocean. For ships travelling between Asia and Europe, taking the NSR reduces the travel distance to about two-thirds that of travelling via the Suez Canal, and around half that of the Cape of Good Hope route.