Demand for Arctic Shipping Heats Up
Shipping in the Arctic region is predicted to boom as ice sheets that formerly proved impenetrable recede due to global warming, opening up faster sea routes between Europe and Asia.
As ice shrinks, demand for Arctic shipping heats up
Stockholm/Oslo (dpa) – Shipping in the Arctic region is predicted to boom as ice sheets that formerly proved impenetrable recede due to global warming, opening up faster sea routes between Europe and Asia.
The increased activity in the sea lanes in Arctic waters off northern Russia and Norway reflects climate change, but also economic shifts, with more transports of oil and liquid natural gas (LNG) going to energy-hungry markets in Asia.
Surveys of the receding sea ice have been issued during the UN climate change summit in Doha, where delegates have wrangled on how to curb greenhouse gas emissions that drive the melt.
The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that Arctic sea ice melted to a record seasonal low this year, with preliminary data showing that ice around the North Pole shrunk to 3.41 million square kilometres in September, 18 per cent less than the previous low in 2007.
While climate experts say reduced ice coverage sets the stage for a host of long-term environmental impacts, those with commercial interests in mind see a pathway to new markets.
“We see that ships go east, reflecting that the markets are in the east,” said Gunnar Sander, senior advisor at the Norwegian Polar Research Institute, located in Tromso above the Arctic Circle.
For example, the Snow White natural gas field off northern Norway had been envisaged to provide LNG for the United States, but recent developments in shale gas production has resulted in less US demand for LNG from Norway.