Environmentalists and scientists alike warn us that the ice caps present in the Arctic Circle are melting at an alarming pace. Global warming is the cause of the retreat of large amounts of ice caps, which has the effect of opening more sea waters in the North for ship navigation.
Because now these waters are navigable in more days in a year, it results in an opportunity for energy buyers and sellers, especially those that deal with liquefied natural gas (LNG), to use the Northern Sea Route, as they call it, which can cut travel days from the Yamal LNG project in Russia to Asia completely in half when compared to the Southern Sea Route which uses the Suez Canal.
This year alone brought record temperatures which caused ice melting in the northern hemisphere. This combined with the minimum extent of sea ice is believed to be among the top 10 lowest in forty years, ever since satellite records began to be used.
A consequence was the increase in the volumes transported through the Northern Sea Route, which is also due to a rise in LNG exports in Russia. This information was shared in Bloomberg by Sergei Balmasov, head of Murmansk-based consultancy Arctic Logistics Information Office.
According to him, although the number of shipments taken through the Northern Sea Route is basically the same as the one registered last year, the difference comes when we think about the LNG traffic out of the port of Sabetta. This port is used by the Russian gas producer Novatek to ship Yamal LNG cargoes to Asia and Europe.
Bloomberg compiled the Arctic Logistics data which shows that a total number of 34 tankers traveled from Sabetta to Europe and one took the route to the East by early July.