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 Conferences and seminars about the Arctic seem to have superseded even piracy as a source of income for the conference-for-profit crowd.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 November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Port of Houston Expecting Record Year

The Port of Houston Authority is expecting 2014 to close as a banner year for the port, with 34 million tons of cargo handled through November, Executive Director

Hapag-Lloyd Completes CSAV Merger Capital Increase

Hapag-Lloyd completed the planned capital increase of EUR 370 million (approximately $452.5 million) as part of the business combination with the Chilean shipping

Arctic Operations

Reports on Rosneft Arctic Projects

On December 18, Member of Rosneft Board of Directors, special representative of President of the Russian Federation on international cooperation in the Arctic

BSEE Attends Arctic Council Meeting

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) David M. Moore recently traveled to Seattle, Wash., for a meeting of the Arctic Council Emergency Prevention,

RV Sikuliaq: Modern Electric Propulsion & Power Management

While ships have used electricity to help power vessels for a long time, new and sophisticated diesel-electric technologies are making serious gains in efficiency,

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar 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: 0.1197 sec (8 req/sec)