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Vast, Tenfold Increase in Arctic Transport Route

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(LPAC)—Japan’s Nihon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) reports that cargo transport between Asia and Europe on the Northern Sea Route has increased nearly tenfold in the past 2 years.

Russian state firm Rosatomflot said on Friday that more than one million tons of goods were shipped this year on this Arctic sea route. The figure for 2010 was about 110,000 tons. The firm said petroleum products and iron ore accounted for a large part
of the shipments. Around 60 percent of the cargo was transported from Europe and Russia to Asia.

It’s attracting attention as vessels could cut travel time between Europe and Asia to two-thirds compared to a route through the Suez Canal. It’s also regarded safer for avoiding pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa.

The increase in freight volume on the route is attributed to a sharp decline in Arctic ice. Recent moves by the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to expand the country’s interests in the Arctic Ocean are believed to be another factor. A Rosatomflot official said most Asian firms currently using the route are Chinese and South Korean. But the official expressed hope that Japanese companies would also make more use of the Arctic route. [ron]