Tschudi Shipping Co., one of Norway's oldest shipping firms, will begin exploring the possibility of establishing a transshipment port in western Alaska, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell said today.
Treadwell, who leads the state's work with the eight-nation Arctic Council, applauded Tschudi's decision, saying it is a tremendous step toward developing Alaska's economic opportunities related to Arctic shipping.
Tschudi Shipping Co. is owned and operated by the fourth generation of the Tschudi family and operates shipping, offshore and logistics worldwide with particular focus on east-west cargo flows between Northwest Europe, Central Asia and Russia including logistics in the Norwegian and Russian Arctic.
Tschudi wants to establish a location to serve as an intermediate or transshipment site for goods and commodities shipped to and from Scandinavia and Europe via its port facilities in Kirkenes, Norway along Russia’s Northern Sea Route and through the Bering Strait bound for Pacific U.S., Alaska or Far East ports.
“Felix Tschudi understands the strategic position of Alaska and the practical value of this new ocean that’s opening as ice recedes,” Treadwell said. “We’ve long known that ports in western Alaska, including Adak and Dutch Harbor, offer a valuable global location with links to trans-Pacific routes. As we look to develop our Arctic economy, we believe this opportunity to link ports in Europe on trans-Atlantic routes to ports in Alaska will be an important first step.”
Tschudi, the CEO of Tschudi Shipping Co. and cofounder of the Center for High North Logistics, a non-profit research foundation focusing on transportation solutions in the Arctic, agreed. “We are pleased that Alaska sees the economic value of this kind of collaboration, and we will be working to study all possibilities and options in the coming months.”
Discussions with Tschudi began several weeks ago in Iceland and continued last week during a two-day workshop organized by the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the Institute of the North in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy in Washington and the Center for High North Logistics to explore shipping opportunities.
The workshop was part of an ongoing study being conducted by UAF for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) to look at the economic opportunities and impacts that could accrue to Alaska from Arctic shipping. Presenters included U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on plans for a deep-draft port at Port Clarence and Nome, experts in Arctic ice conditions, planners examining the rail and road links from Nome/Port Clarence to Fairbanks, and those with experience in shipping along Russia's Northern Sea Route.
Treadwell said the collaboration on a potential Alaska transshipment port location is a direct result of the Dept. of Commerce effort. The Commerce/UAF study will help Alaska present its case, as ports in Japan and Russia could serve the same purpose.
Treadwell said Tschudi joins other European ports in Norway, Iceland, and Germany that have expressed an interest in cooperation with Alaska ports. Alaska also is working closely with its northern neighbors through the Arctic Council to improve the shipping safety in the Arctic.
“Western Alaska ports, including the deep-draft ports proposed for Port Clarence and Nome, may be at the same point in our economic history that the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports were in the 1950s at the dawn of the jet age. Regular Arctic shipping is coming just as polar aviation came in the last generation,” Treadwell said. “Our strategic position in the air cargo world supplies tens of thousands of jobs here today, and trans-polar shipping may have similar potential in the next 50 years.”
The UAF/Commerce study will continue to examine how to ensure safe, secure and reliable shipping to prevent oil spills and protect coastal communities, fishing, and hunting; how to reduce energy costs for Alaskans; how to increase the export of Alaska resources; and, how to create more jobs for Alaskans.