According to Nikkei, Japan is pondering the idea of using the Arctic Ocean as a new sea route to connect Asia with Europe in order to improve shipping efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.
Based on certain estimates, this route could reduce sailing distances and operating costs by 40 per cent as compared with ships that sail between Asia and Europe via the Suez Canal.
Namely, ships heading from Yokohama to Rotterdam travel about 21,000 kilometers if they sail via the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal. The Arctic route would shorten their journey to roughly 13,000 kilometers.
Moreover, the new route would reduce the sailing time from 31 to 25 days, thus cutting CO2 emissions from vessels as well.
Even if it is seems like a good solution for Asia-Europe connection, certain details need to be clarified, like how much Russia would charge sailing fees along its coastal areas.
In order to move forward with this idea Japan plans to assumed the observing role in the Arctic Ocean Conference, a forum comprised of eight Arctic Ocean countries — including Russia, Canada, the United States and Norway – which is in charge of designing the rules on the use of the body of water.
World Maritime News Staff, August 7, 2012; Image: SCF