Taking a Dangerous Shortcut?

September 29, 2023

Russia is boosting oil flows through the Arctic

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the EU sanctions that followed, Russia has been trying to explore alternative customers and shipping routes to maintain its crude oil and refined product exports.  It has grown a fleet of “dark vessels” that are willing to move Russian crude despite the risk of sanctions from the group of G7 countries.  Russia also discounted the price of its crude oil and products to boost demand in regions that were traditionally not large customers, like India.

One of the latest developments in Russia’s campaign to boost exports is an increase in flows from the Baltic and the Barents Sea to China via the Northern Sea Route.  Is this a realistic alternative to the more traditional routes via the Suez Canal or is it a risky and dangerous shortcut that would not be considered under normal circumstances?

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