Russian energy company Gazprom has successfully delivered its first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) to China, according to LSEG financial information company. The tanker Velikiy Novgorod, carrying LNG from the Portovaya LNG plant in the Baltic Sea, embarked on its journey to China on August 14 and has now reached its destination at the Tangshan Caofeidian terminal in the Hebei province.
This move by Russia is part of its efforts to expand the use of the NSR, which is an Arctic corridor, as an alternative to traditional transit routes that are subject to Western sanctions. The NSR is the shortest shipping route between East Asia and Europe, running through the Arctic Ocean along Russia’s northern coastline. Moscow has been heavily investing in the infrastructure of the NSR in order to establish it as a major international shipping lane.
Aleksey Chekunkov, Russia’s minister for the development of the Far East and the Arctic, highlighted the importance of the NSR at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. He stated that a large portion of the global economy is reliant on the NSR, including countries that are currently deemed unfriendly towards Russia. Chekunkov predicts a significant increase in shipping activity through the NSR in the next seven years.
While the route through the Arctic waters presents challenges, using it can significantly shorten the voyage by up to two weeks, or around 30%, compared to the traditional southern route through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. This reduction in transportation time is particularly appealing for China, Asia’s biggest economy, as it provides a more efficient and cost-effective option for receiving LNG shipments from Russia.
Russia’s focus on developing the NSR aligns with its strategy to expand its presence in the Arctic region. The melting of Arctic ice due to climate change has opened up new opportunities for maritime transportation and resource exploration in the area. By establishing the NSR as a major shipping route, Russia aims to leverage its geographical advantage and strengthen its position as a key player in global trade.
In conclusion, Gazprom’s successful delivery of LNG through the Northern Sea Route to China marks a significant milestone in Russia’s efforts to promote the Arctic corridor as a viable alternative for international shipping. With its potential to shorten transportation times and reduce costs, the NSR has the potential to become a major global transportation corridor, facilitating trade and economic growth for countries around the world.