Splash 247: Russia’s decision to deploy non-ice class tankers in the Arctic comes in for criticism

October 2, 2023

Russia risks an environmental catastrophe by deploying non-ice class ships on its increasingly busy Northern Shipping Route (NRS), according to experts at New York tanker brokerage Poten & Partners.

Thanks to Western sanctions, Russia has increased its focus on deliveries to Asian clients, with plenty of ships choosing the Arctic voyage along the NSR this year (see charts below).

A journey from the Barents Sea to the port of Rizhao in China via the NRS takes 35 days, which, according to Poten, is 10 days less than the alternative southern route from the Baltic through the Suez Canal. The potential for time and fuel savings is significant. However, the weather can quickly change – something that was clearly in evidence in November 2021 when more than 20 ships got stuck along the route because of an early freeze in the Arctic waters.

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