The volume of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route (NSR) increased in 2018 by almost 2 times to 19.7 mln tons. In 2017, the traffic volume of the Northern Sea Routes amounted to 10.7 mln tons. The Mortsentr Company Limited reported this on February 19, 2019.
According to the NSR Administration, the total volume of freight traffic in 2018 amounted to 19.689 million tons, including:
- general cargo - 2.34 million tons (- 6.3%);
- coal - 290.8 thousand tons (- 16%);
- ores - 43 thousand tons (+ 29.9%);
- oil and oil products - 7.81 million tons (+ 15.6%);
- gas condensate - 805.4 thousand tons (an increase of 7.5 times);
- liquefied natural gas (LNG) - 8.399 million tons (an increase of 37.7 times).
A large increase in LNG transportation along the NSR is associated with commissioning in December 2017 of Yamal LNG. The main traffic transit traffic in 2018 was in the direction of West-East.
According to the results for 2018, the Administration of the Northern Sea Route issued 792 permits for navigation in the waters of the Northern Sea Route, incl. 91 permitting ships under a foreign flag. The analysis of transit traffic showed that in 2018, 27 transit flights were carried out, incl. 17 flights by ships under a foreign flag.
According to estimates, the turnover on the NSR in 2019 will amount to 26 million tons. In the future, the growth will be:
- in 2020 to 44 million tons;
- in 2021 to 51 million tons;
- in 2024 to 80 million tons.
According to the forecast of cargo traffic on the NSR based on the data of the license holders by 2030 it will be 115.5 million tons and by 2035 155.5 million tons.
However, it’s too early to go so far. Deputy Prime Minister, Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuriy Trutnev previously reported that cargo traffic through the NSR does not reach 80 million tons per year by 2024, which President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin ordered to provide. According to NOVATEK data, the company's projects will ensure the loading of the NSR by the mid-2020s. at the level of 46.5 million tons/year.
Speaking about the development of the NSR as an international transport corridor, one should not take into account the entire volume of freight traffic, but mainly transit flights, which are relatively few so far. There is not yet any talk about the real competition between the Suez Canal and the Northern Sea Route: the latter’s share in the world’s navigable cargo turnover is negligible. Thus, in 2017, the Suez Canal transported 1.041 billion tons of cargo in 2017, which is about 10% of all global traffic.
However, there is one unconditional advantage of NSR: it allows to reduce the time of transportation. On the southern route through the Suez Canal the ship’s journey from South Korea to Germany takes 34 days, and along the Northern Sea Route it takes only 23 days.