He melting of the Arctic Circle It is bad news from a climate point of view, but the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin is taking advantage of it to create an alternative sea route.
The fact that ice melts is allowing ships to travel through the Arctic Oceanand the Russian president has turned it into an alternative that has nothing to envy to the Suez Canal itself.
As stated The Economist, Russia has multiplied exponentially the use of the Arctic route for transport oil and gas to Chinathe country to which it is sending a relevant part of its exports in the face of European sanctions.
The figures speak for themselves: Putin has ‘clogged’ the road with his ships. Russian ships have transported between January and October 2023 a total of 2,120,000 tons along the so-called Northern Maritime Route (RMN) compared to 200,000 tons that Russia transferred through that route in the same period of the year 2022.
A riskier path
However, despite the fact that the thawing of the Arctic Circle allows use of the Northern Maritime Route, conditions for transportation of raw materials as delicate as oil They are not ideal.
MRI is a shorter route, but also much more riskyso this great increase in the use of the Arctic Ocean to transport crude oil and gas makes the danger of the occurrence of a accident with catastrophic environmental consequences rises considerably.
A “pilot project” to replace the Suez Canal
But Russia seems willing to expose itself to that risksince the increase in traffic along the Northern Maritime Route during 2023 has been proposed as an pilot experience to replace the Suez Canal.
This has been confirmed by Vladimir Panov, special representative for Arctic development of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom. “The transit in 2023 can be considered a pilot project. The companies accepted ship via the arctic route between summer and autumn part of the merchandise that previously went through the Suez Canal destined for Asia-Pacific countries,” he explained, according to the agency Interface.
Panov has specified that “The main cargo was oil. Around 1.5 million tons were transported. Another 350,000 tons were iron ore concentrate.” And everything indicates that this Russian commitment to the Maritime Route will be maintained over time, since the Rosatom member has stressed that “we have convinced ourselves that “The route is economically effective for the transit of goods.”