The feasibility of a year-around Arctic transshipment route, a longtime dream of Russia, is still unclear
Media reports and commentaries are hailing the Russian LNG (liquefied natural gas) carrier Christophe de Margerie’s latest voyage along the Northern Sea Route as a watershed. The voyage has brought Moscow’s dream of year-around access to the NSR into the limelight again, and speculation is rife about whether the prospect is closer to reality than previously thought.
However, a few less-reported aspects can shed more light on the NSR’s feasibility as a transshipment route.
Sister ship didn’t emerge unscathed
The Nikolay Yevgenov, another LNG carrier and sister ship of the Christophe de Margerie, departed a day later on the same route but suffered damage to its propulsion system. The ship took a detour through the Suez Canal and is in dry dock in France for repairs. The incident has diminished the sensational claims that the Arctic is now open for year-around safe voyages without heavy icebreakers clearing the way.