The melting of Arctic sea ice makes it possible to navigate vessels further north than has ever been the practice. Accordingly, a route along the northern shore of Siberia has now become commercially feasible.
Politicians may argue about climate change, and scientists may still argue about its causes, but the simple fact is that the expanse of Arctic ice at the end of the last summer season (September 2017) was 20% less than the average through the period 1981-2010. The roll back of this ice expanse has drawn the attention of marine transportation.
Sea vessels on the lanes along the northern coast of Siberia can get cargo from the eastern to the western hemisphere while cutting up to 40% of the distance off the Suez canal route. The relevant still-forbidding coastline includes at least 16 ports.
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The development has geopolitical significance. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has proposed allowing only Russian-flagged vessels to carry or store hydrocarbons along the way.