Northeast Passage

 The icy Artic shipping route above Russia may be warming, but sailing it takes a stout heart

Arctic shipping set a new record this year, underlining both the promise and perils of a sea route opening above Russia that cuts thousands of kilometers off cargo voyages between north Asia and Europe. The Arctic’s rapidly melting ice is increasing commercial prospects for the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which takes roughly ten days sailing across 2,936 nautical miles, from the Barents Sea along Russian coasts, to the Bering Sea and down to the Pacific. The route could cut travel time by 10 to 20 days for cargo that normally heads south, through the Malacca Strait and the Suez Canal, avoiding consumption of hundreds of metric tons of bunker fuel, pirate-infested waters in southeast Asia and the Gulf of Aden, as well as queues and political unrest at the Suez Canal. The trade route had previously been used mainly in the Soviet era, reaching a 1987 peak of 6.6 million tons, reported Reuters.

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