Cold, Hard Realities of Arctic Shipping

MarineLink.com/US Naval Institute
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Arctic Sea Routes: mage courtesy of UNEP

In a recent article in USNI 'Proceedings Magazine' Stephen M. Carmel said: "Maritime pundits believe a shrinking ice cap translates to a frenzy of traffic as shippers rush to exploit shorter sea routes. They’re wrong." Excerpts follow:

On 16 September 2012 the Arctic reached the point at which ice stops receding and begins to form anew with the approach of winter. Last year that ice minimum set a record at 1.32 million square miles – 300,000 square miles less than the previous record minimum. With that news comes the predictable flood of reports about the pending increase in Arctic shipping, how woefully unprepared the United States is to deal with that onslaught of traffic, and the need for large-scale investment in Arctic capabilities.

Worries about the implications of a thawing Arctic have been around for some time. Conferences and seminars about the Arctic seem to have superseded even piracy as a source of income for the conference-for-profit crowd. There is no doubt that the Arctic is in fact thawing, and there naturally will be increased activity up there. But to formulate appropriate strategy and make intelligent investments it is important to get past the hype and:

• Understand what type of activity is likely to occur
• Determine the time frame in which it is likely to happen
• Recognize that, at least for commercial interests, economics trumps all

Clearly, a great deal can happen in 30 or 40 years, so it is a mistake to try to overlay a melting Arctic on today’s geo-economic situation. It is the state of the world at that future point interacting with a melted Arctic that matters. Already, changes in the patterns of global trade have had significant implications for the utility of Arctic routes. Increasingly expensive labor in China, for example, is pushing Chinese manufacturing to be outsourced to countries in Southeast Asia where costs are lower but Arctic routes offer no advantage.

Carmel concludes that there is no question that the Arctic is becoming more ice-free. There will be an attendant increase in commercial presence in the Arctic that should not be ignored. But a proper understanding of what type of activity there will be, and a realistic assessment of the volume of that activity are necessary to ensure proper policy and investments are made. For commercial shipping, and particularly the types that drive globalization today, Arctic routes do not now offer an attractive alternative to the more traditional maritime avenues, and are highly unlikely to do so in the future.

Source: 'Proceedings Magazine' - July 2013 Vol. 139/7/1,325 - http://www.usni.org/magazines/proceedings/2013-07

 

Maritime Reporter September 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Drydocks World to Repair “High Island IV”

Drydocks World, the international service provider to the shipping, maritime, offshore, oil, gas, and energy sectors, has been chosen to carry out the drydocking

Decade Old India Shipping Summit Makes History

In ten years, India Shipping Summit held consistently in Mumbai, has sailed on a robust growth course despite the worldwide witnessing recessionary waves buffeting any endeavors to grow and gain.

Liebherr to Deliver RTGs to Mayotte and Manila

Liebherr confirms orders for variable speed RTGs and electric RTGs. DPWorld Asian Terminals Inc. has placed an order with Liebherr Container Cranes for a further 5 RTGs at its Manila facility.

Arctic Operations

Rederij Groen Takes Delivery of 7-Waves

Rederij Groen’s entire SRSV fleet built by Damen Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam. Dutch offshore services company Rederij Groen has taken delivery of the 7-Waves,

New Oil Field Found in British North Sea

GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd and BP today announced a new exploration discovery in the UK Central North Sea. The discovery, which spans GDF SUEZ operated block 30/1f

MEPC Makes Progress on Energy Efficiency, Emissions

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met for its 67th session from October 13-17, 2014, at IMO Headquarters in London.

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2156 sec (5 req/sec)