The existing excellent contacts between Port of Hamburg Marketing and Russian ports as well as the Hamburg maritime industry’s second most important trading partner in seaborne freight traffic provided the occasion for an expert session on the use of the Northern Sea Route – NSR – and development of transit freight traffic between Europe and Asia. At a meeting in Hamburg, members of a delegation from the Russian company Rosatom briefed interested business and shipping representatives extensively on planning for the expansion of the NSR and opening up the Arctic region. In initial test runs, the shorter sea route between Europe and Asia along Russia’s Arctic coast has already been used as an alternative to the conventional sea route via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Indian Ocean.
The route through the Northeast Passage is navigable for ships in transit with the assistance of four especially powerful nuclear-powered Rosatom icebreakers. Changes in the ice situation will enable shipping to use the NSR throughout the year. During the experts’ meeting, Mikhail Belkin, State Policy Director of Rosatom, reported that last year alone 27 ships in transit had been escorted through the passage along Russia’s North coast. Rosatom plans a fourfold increase in the quantity of freight so far transported on the NSR by 2024. During the conference, Rosatom presented the “Northern Sea Transit Corridor” investment project that aims to expand transit freight services between Northern Europe and East Asia. Rosatom is also considering the construction of its own fleet of special vessels for transit shipping. “This is a major project. We wish to gain international partners and co-investors for implementing it,“ said Alexander Neklyudov, CEO of Rosatom Cargo.
In the opinion of Ingo Egloff, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, the future Northeast Passage is also of great importance for Hamburg. The Port of Hamburg is splendidly equipped as a universal hub for handling cargoes of all types, and is favourably located as the central hub port for the NSR. In their contributions, the speakers and guests participating in this information event emphasized that apart from the safety of marine traffic, in the Arctic special requirements for protecting the environment and the ocean also need to be heeded. For investors, rich deposits of raw materials in Russia’s Arctic region offer tremendous opportunities. Compared to the route around South Asia, past India and through the Suez Canal, the Northern route would be 5,200 kilometres shorter for freight transport between Asia and Europe, and could consequently also gain in importance in future.