For the first time, Russian authorities have opened the Northern Sea Route for a Norwegian tanker, according to the Norwegian Ship Owners’ Association.
The Norwegian LNG-tanker "Ribera del Duerea Knutsen", which belongs to Knutsen OAS Shipping, a Norwegian shipping company in Haugesund, has been granted permission from Russia to sail the shortcut to Asia.
The Northern Sea Route cuts the time it takes to get to Asia in half, and will both lower costs and reduce the threat from Somali pirates. The route extends from the Barents Sea, along Siberia to the Bering Strait, and then on to Japan or other Asian countries.
For a tanker the journey will take approximately two weeks, about half the time it takes to travel through the Suez Canal. As a result of the icy conditions in the Arctic, the route can normally only be used from June to October, and even then ships have to be led by icebreakers.
The Norwegian tanker is the only liquid natural gas tanker in the world that qualifies to travel through such waters. The Northern Sea Route opened for commercial shipping in 1991, but the first merchant ships weren’t let through until 2009.